A woman’s intuition.

I read all the time, but I feel like it’s rare to read a book that is just a pleasure from beginning to end. I am glad to say, though, that I just finished one that qualifies for that (very small) category: Intuition by Allegra Goodman.

Back when Intuition first came into the library, I saw the glowing reviews and remarked to a coworker that I wanted to read it. “Yeah, have fun with that,” she said dismissively. So then I had to read it, because I had said I was going to, and because I wanted to prove her wrong. Why would she dismiss it? Well, I’ll be the first to admit that a book about scientists and the possibility of falsified results doesn’t sound like the most compelling premise. And I was worried that all the science stuff would be over my head, which is why I didn’t start it until now. Thankfully, though, that wasn’t the case. It was explained in enough detail that I thought I understood what was going on, but not so much that I felt bogged down. (I’ve alerted Andrea to the book, and she’s going to let me know if it’s horribly inaccurate.)

The best thing about the book was that all of the characters were sympathetic and flawed – I never felt like taking one side over the other. I felt bad for Robin, whose intuition told her that Cliff had done something wrong. Was she right, or was she just jealous of Cliff’s success, a bitter ex-girlfriend? I felt bad for Cliff, who earnestly defended his innocence. Was he innocent, or had he made a calculated move to finally get ahead? I liked the two directors of the lab, Sandy and Marion, each with their own short-sightedness, each with their own reasons compelling you to believe them, believe in them, and root for them. It’s a rare book that manages to walk that balancing act and still provide a satisfying ending, but this one did it beautifully.

The best thing about the ending was that, for me, it was in question the whole time. Was Robin delusional? Had Cliff cheated on his results? I honestly did not know. I had a guess, but I did not know. And I wanted desperately to find out.

I wouldn’t say this book is for everybody – if you can’t abide even the thought of having to read about science experiments (especially experiments on mice), you might give this a pass. But if the idea of scientists desperately (maybe too desperately) working to cure cancer, lab politics (like any office politics) and possible deception, well-developed characters, and an interesting story sound like your kind of thing, give Intuition a try.

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