The Love Hypothesis

- Ali Hazelwood


As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding… six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.



Frankly, Olive was a bit on the fence about this whole grad school thing.


solid, good read:
I’ve been very much looking forward to The Love Hypothesis since I first saw it making the rounds. I think I’ve put it off for fear of being disappointed by a book claiming to be about women in STEM but failing to pass muster. I’ve done my time in labs and classes, completed research (albeit undergraduate, not graduate), worked on papers and presentations and conferences. I was lucky to attend a smaller school that was incredibly generous with experiences and opportunities. I always felt supported, encouraged, and welcomed, but I know that this is not always, and in fact, is rarely the case. If I had pursued a more traditional opportunity to move further into a STEM career, it’s fairly unlikely my incredible undergraduate experience would have continued.

Even moving into what I would consider a very female-friendly (even female majority) branch of health care, it’s rare to have a day where my gender is not something a patient feels the need to address or comment on. From being called ‘sweetheart’ to patients asking if I have children or feeling the need to discuss my plans for children. Then there are the ones who ask about my husband, who doesn’t exist (and also assumes that I’m straight), or ask if I moved to Australia to be with my non-existent husband (because, yes, my accent is also something that needs to be addressed and I could only be in this country if I followed a man). Then there are the patients who find one of the three men I work with to discuss a diagnosis, prescription, or treatment plan that I explained several times ‘just to clarify’. Of course, one of these men is technically my boss and does look like he knows the answer to everything (because he does), but the others rarely have any idea what is going on. They’re more likely to throw temper tantrums over constructive criticism or blame others for their mistakes. Try doing that as a woman and see how far it gets you.

All of this incredibly long and mostly pointless rant is to say that I doubted anything I had experienced on my very small scale, let alone anything experienced in bigger schools and more prestigious programs, could be accurately represented in a *checks notes* romance novel.

But I have to give Hazelwood serious credit. She contrasted a lighthearted and fun fake dating romance with some serious and scary sexism in STEM. Neither detracted from the other, and they were allowed to be exactly what they were. Hazelwood didn’t dumb it down; there are science and research papers, and the graduate students talk exactly like you’d expect them to in their bubble of higher learning and high IQs. They’re people with flaws who are very dedicated to their interests, making them a little socially stunted and not particularly well-rounded, but very compelling to read about.

Olive was not exactly my favourite. She was oblivious for much longer than it was believable, and I didn’t particularly like that her first instinct in a lot of sticky situations was to lie or hide the truth. Adam was a little too passive, too willing to let things fall apart rather than fight for them, and too quick to fall back into stalker habits rather than take an active role in his own life.
Also, the absolute luck required to record the one instance that you would need to be able to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt to save your reputation, research, career, and relationship is a little hard to believe. It’s too much of an important point to hinge on having hard evidence. It would have been more interesting, and more telling of a strong relationship, for Olive to have had the courage to tell Adam the truth and for him to believe her on her word alone. Or for her to have had to fight for her research and her reputation and go up against the Goliath of sexism and status. Although, for that to have led to a happy ending would have probably been pretty hard to believe as well…
This review is much longer than it needed to be and ended up having very little to do with The Love Hypothesis itself. However, it makes me glad that there are books like this out there to help foster discussion and invite others to share their stories and experiences. Change can seem unlikely or impossible, and anything that aims to promote it should be embraced, especially when it is as enjoyable as The Love Hypothesis turned out to be.



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