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Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe Paperback – May 6, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 367 pages
  • Publisher: New American Library (May 6, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451223888
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451223883
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,958,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An award-winning high school science teacher who juggles marriage, motherhood and massive traditional Italian meals, Mira Serafino is called Miss Control Freak by her best friend Lannie, an eccentric musician who owns a yarn and guitar shop in their close-knit community of Pacifica, Ore. Shortridge (Eating Heaven) flashes back to Mira's difficult childhood (where she adopted the role of Saint Mira, absorber of all family pain) as her marriage hits a major snag, sending Mira into a process of self-examination. Mira's Type A–ness comes through clearly, and secondaries—including a difficult daughter, incommunicado brother and a father who is about as sensitive as a Mack truck—deepen her dilemmas. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“[A] wry and funny portrait.”
—Diana Loevy, author of The Book

“Smart, funny, and endearing…one terrific read!”
—Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

“Flawless storytelling make[s] this a book to remember.”
—Karen White, author of The Memory of Water --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

This is my favorite of Jennie's books and a terrific read!
Sandra Fischer
Jennie thank you for bringing to life a very painful, but "growing" life experience for many of us!
Hope McGillis
The author did a great job at making you care about the characters, especially the main one.
H. Collins

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Hope McGillis on May 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
I have to admit that I bought this book by its cover...I had never read any of Jennie's books before this one! I bought the book on Friday evening after work and finished it on Saturday evening! I truly felt as if I was reading about my life! After twenty two years of marriage, I woke up not knowing who I was or what I was suppose to do with my life! My ex was having an affair and my world was turned upside down. Jennie thank you for bringing to life a very painful, but "growing" life experience for many of us! I will read any book that you write and can't wait to purchase more of this one for some of my friends!!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gayla M. Collins VINE VOICE on March 1, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
On a whim one day I bought "Riding With the Queen" by Jennie Shortridge. Loved It. Followed through by purchasing "Eating Heaven." Loved it. When I saw she had a new one, I snatched it right up and am I ever grateful that I did.

Mira is a middle-aged women who lives on the coastline of Oregon where she has dutifully taken care of her husband, daughter, father, grandmother and several relatives from her huge Italian family while also teaching 6th grade science. She faces menopause with a daughter, Thea, 22, and so rebellious she breaks Mira's heart. Mira's hubby has found a new woman, opineing he is unhappy and has a "friend;" she is helping him feel better in many ways.

Mira breaks; Mira hits the highway north!

Not knowing where she will end up Mira settles for where her radiator breaks.....downtown Seattle. She finds a job managing a coffee shop and a rat-trap apartment above it to live in. All the upheaval that is her new life is shared with us in so many amusing, touching, down-right heartbreaking details that the book can not be put aside. The prose is smart; the characters so believable, the plot always surprising. I LOVED this book. It is my favorite of all.

If you get the chance to purchase this book then do!!! Soon. Women will see so much of themselves between the pages. I laughed; I cried; I mused. It is sublime.

Thank-you Ms. Shortridge for making my reading life just that much more pleasant!!!!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By G. Myers on June 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
Okay, 1st confession - I am not a woman. 2nd confession - I am not middle-aged (although I can see it from here). What can I say, 40 is the new 20, right? One last confession - I have never had a husband cheat on me - which would be a great surprise to me and an even greater one to my wife. So, it is easy to see I am not the target market.
That being said, I truly enjoyed this book. Jennie has written characters so vibrant, so real and so familiar that I swear I have been to the Serafino Family Christmas party. The interactions between the characters are real. Reading this book brought up memories of my family and some of their antics - in a good way. By the way, if you do not have a friend like Lannie then go find one. Everyone deserves to have a 'Lannie' in their life.
Mira's coming-of-(middle)age struggles kept me wanting to know what was going to happen next - all the way to the last page. As the story unfolded, I found myself alternately saying "You go girl!" when Mira takes a step forward; and "Oh! Mira, Mira, Mira - what were you thinking?" when she finds herself going back a step.
Jennie's dialogue (both internal and external) are masterfully written and engaging. She has skillfully back-dropped the story in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Having visited the Oregon Coast on several occasions and being a resident of the Seattle area, I was able to visualize all the locations in the book easily. She uncannily brings out the legendary Seattle coffee fetish with good humor. I think we have all stood in line behind some of the customers we see at The Center of the Universe. Yet, Jennie does all this with a light touch. She weaves the world around the characters in such a way that it adds to the story rather than detract from it.
In short, you do not have to be a perimenopausal woman who has had a bad relationship to enjoy this book. A good story is still a good story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Geffen on May 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
I had the good fortune to attend Jennie's book launch party at Queen Anne Avenue Books last week - it was thoroughly enjoyable! I walked out with my autographed copy of the book on Thursday night, and tucked my reading time in between family committments, etc. finally finishing it (lingering in the bathroom so as not to be disturbed) on Sunday. What an entertaining story! Jennie's characters are drawn with such depth, I couldn't wait to see what they were going to do next. Mira was scarily familiar as she navigated her perimenopausal way through her life changes, and the supporting cast, from family members to coffee shop clientele, all rang so true. Jennie has an obvious talent for character development and dialogue. I'm excited to read her other 2 books as well. Treat yourself to this rollicking good book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By skrishna VINE VOICE on October 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe is a wonderful and warm addition to the world of women's fiction. The picture of espresso on the cover says it all: it is inviting and comfortable, but a little bitter: there may be some realizations within that you don't necessarily want to have.

In my opinion, that's the best part of the book. Too often in books such as this, there is a no-good husband and a saintly wife. Though the book seems to start off that way, it quickly evolves into something more. Mira has to rethink her entire marriage and make some hard realizations, not only about her husband, but about herself as well. The fault isn't one-sided, and understanding is needed on both sides.

It is also nice to see the evolution of Mira's character in this book. Though she is definitely the same person at the end of the book as she was at the start, much has changed. She seems more aware, more thoughtful; she realizes that she has been living in a state of denial, and not everything has to be picture perfect, as she had planned it. And indeed, the book doesn't end on a perfect note. There are still difficult decisions to be made and relationships that haven't been patched up; in other words, it is real life.

There are definitely difficult, and sometimes unpleasant, characters to deal with, from Mira's daughter Thea to Sequoia, a difficult coworker. And Mira doesn't always handle these obstacles perfectly - sometimes she prolongs her own unhappiness, which, of course, is frustrating for the reader. But in the end, Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe is a warming read that makes you realize what really is important in life, and that keeping yourself happy is just as important as everyone else being happy.
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More About the Author

I was born in North Dakota but spent most of my life in Denver, Colorado until my husband Matt and I moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2002. We live in Seattle with our aging cat on the steep side of a hill covered with trees, right in the city, and I watch float planes buzz by my home-office window and hear boat horns honking to encourage the Fremont Bridge to raise and let them pass.

My first year in the Northwest was a shock to the system after a lifetime spent in sunshine. The first winter I often took to my bed at 2pm when it still hadn't gotten light outside. But gradually I became mole like, preferring the silver light over bright sun, and the year-round greenery over brown dusty plains. We have so many writers up here that we eventually all find each other.

I feel privileged to be involved with a large group of them in a nonprofit collective called Seattle7Writers.org. We love to connect readers, writers, booksellers and librarians, and to raise money and awareness for literacy in our community. And we now have a band, The Rejections. We practice most Tuesday nights and occasionally perform for some book or literacy related event.

I've been a full-time writer since 1995, which feels astounding. People think I've had some rather odd jobs previous to that, but I figure, hey, if you've lived this long, usually some interesting stuff has happened to you. I was a working musician for a very long time, from my teens into my thirties. I was an apprentice plumber when I was young, and a secretary. I've cooked off and on in little cafes and I don't rule it out in the future. I was a corporate marketing type person for way too long. And now through the grace of all good things in the universe, I get to write. Thank you, dear readers, for your support, faith, and trust. I couldn't do it without you!

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