Gunnar Gunderson is a physicist with some pretty straightforward ways at looking at the world. While his research delving into the physics of absolute zero is going very well and he’s just secured tenure at the university, Gunnar suddenly feels an intense need to find a mate and wants to act on this desire quickly...
In this hugely heartwarming and emotionally eloquent saga of Gunnar and the stirring of his heart, Meeks shares with us a most endearing man, looking for love and enchantment in some very unusual ways.
Every time I discover that Chris Meeks is putting out a new book, I get unusually antsy about getting my hands on it. It’s always a pleasure to discover the way in which he will capture my attention and immerse me in the lives of characters that are so complex and concrete that they are difficult to separate from their real life counterparts. Meeks is always upping the ante and outdoing himself with each successive book, growing and stretching as an author whom I’ve come to trust and admire.
This latest book was different for Meeks in that he explored the human comedy and tragedy of love in a perfect arena, juxtaposing it as he did with stone cold scientific fact. It was lovely the way the immutable played against the transcendental, and the way Gunnar emotionally slid from his staunch and scientific opinions on love to a more refined and relaxed attitude when it came to taking a chance and letting the desires of his secret heart be fulfilled.
When you stop to analyze what Gunnar thinks about love, it’s enough to make you question what love is and wonder if there are any universal rules that apply to love at all. Meeks subtly proposes these questions by putting Gunnar through his paces, and as the reader laughs at the improbable notions of his protagonist, there’s an element of perplexity as to why it shouldn’t be so.
Discovering love isn’t like discovering a new isotope or element, but there is the same flush of initial recognition and the same enthusiasm to share your discovery with the world.... For Gunnar, this is a realization that comes to chafe at him.
While I could sympathize deeply with Gunnar plight, I could also laughingly relate to what he was going through at times. He had an uncanny knack in his humanness to be thoroughly affective and involving, his confusion and beliefs both charged with the spark of genuine humanness that is a hallmark in Meeks’ writing....
The tenderness and confusion of his heart was on full display, and there was an element of hopelessness and melancholy that effused this section of the book and drew me deeper and deeper into Gunnar’s heartache and grief. But no matter how deeply shattered he felt, there was a glimmering light to his personality that clued me in to not counting him out of the game just yet.
While the first sections of the book were lighthearted and comedic, the middle was more somber and reflective. Towards the end, there’s a measure of redemption for Gunnar, and there’s a sense that the time has come for this man. Gunnar’s plight is the path that will take him from the safety of ideas he can hide behind to the raw and uncharted territory of the unknown, finally landing him in a place where he doesn’t need to have all the answers and can let his heart soar.
I was rooting for this man to extricate himself from the mire he had unwittingly gotten himself into, but was also appreciative that Meeks gave his character a heart that was truly ardent and that I could relate to without difficulty. As a character, Gunnar grows exponentially, and that’s something I love to see in the books I read. Plot, character and motivation combine into the perfect confection of a book that sees its readers cheering along for the underdog: a specimen who seems to have it all figured out but is repeatedly shocked when his hypothesis doesn’t lead to the desired outcome....
This book was another winner for Meeks, and decidedly so. It was in scope and emotion a very different book than The Brightest Moon of the Century, but in some ways, the concern I had for Gunnar both rivaled and matched the concern I had for Edward in Brightest Moon.
This is a story that is fundamentally original and inventive. It forces its reader to ask pressing questions about not only the state of the protagonist’s heart and mind, but their own, and proves to both that the ideas we sometimes hold dear may limit us in imperceptible but very life altering ways. A deeply resonant read that manages to be funny without sacrificing its gravity. Highly recommended!
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