The Explanation For Everything
by Lauren Grodstein
Why did you choose this book? the evolution vs. intelligent design debate I expected
When did you read this book? September 2014
Who should read this book? readers of historical fiction who enjoy mysteries
Source: Library Thing Early Reviewers
Here is a synopsis of The Explanation For Everything from Goodreads
As she did in the bestselling novel A Friend of the Family, Lauren Grodstein has written another provocative morality tale, this time dissecting the permeable line between faith and doubt.
College professor Andy Waite is picking up the pieces of a shattered life. Between his research in evolutionary biology and caring for his young daughters, his days are reassurringly safe, if a bit lonely. But when Melissa Potter—charismatic, unpredictable, and devout—asks him to advise her study of intelligent design, he agrees. Suddenly, the world that Andy has fought to rebuild is rocked to its foundations.
This book was a real disappointment to me. I picked it up because the synopsis led me to believe that I would be witnessing a debate about evolution vs. intelligent design. I was misinformed!
The book is about Andy Waite, a biology professor at a small east coast liberal arts college. Andy, the single father of two young daughters, lost his wife in a drunk-driving accident several years earlier. The young man responsible for his wife’s death is in prison in Florida, and Andy is determined to attend every parole hearing to argue against parole until the young man serves out his sentence. Andy also believes that he is visited by his wife’s ghost.
Andy’s mentor in grad school was a firm evolutionist who taught a class, There Is No God, Andy is following in his footsteps and currently teaches this class at his small college. One of his students, Lionel, is a firm believer in Intelligent Design and is taking the class for a second time, just to annoy Andy apparently. One day a new student, Melissa, approaches Andy to request that he sponsor her independent project on the validity of Intelligent Design, and he agrees! You would think that this would lead to some great discussions about the evolution and intelligent design, but instead, the few times it comes up, Andy passively sits back and lets Melissa say whatever she want with no counterpoint or debate from him. Instead, he and Melissa form a close bond. Melissa knows he is grieving and at times is manipulative.
I’m still not really sure what the book is about. It definitely is NOT a discussion of evolution vs. intelligent design! One thing I really don’t like about the book is that it seems to present the idea that you can not be a biologist and still believe in a higher being, or God, which in my experience, is absolutely untrue! The story may be trying to make a point about the acceptance of death, or possibly forgiveness, but I really didn’t feel there was much resolution of anything in the story, and was left wondering….what happens next.
There are discussion questions at the end of the book, which could make this a good pick for book clubs. I think this is one of those books that will improve with discussion! Though I was disappointed in the book, many people rated it very highly, so if you think this might appeal to you, check out the other reviews on Goodreads.
My Rating: ★★ 2 Stars
I received a review copy of this book through the Library Thing Early Reviewers program and have written an honest review which appears above.