Bernays pens beautiful descriptions of the natural world around Tuscon (“the lonely hills and valleys with their patches of yellow from Tecoma flowers and deep washes highlighted by the light greens of cottonwood trees”) that the women explore together, Bernays as she pursues research, Linda as she accompanies, discovering the rich life of the landscape. Like Linda, readers will develop a rousing sense of the passion that powers Bernays’s work. Other passions are teased out more slowly. Much of the narrative focuses on Linda, her background and struggles, all touchingly rendered, and as it’s only near the end of the book that Bernays directly addresses sexual identity and her bold choice to pursue a relationship with a woman. The memoir reads like it must have been lived, as a series of small discoveries that change two lives.
Especially engaging are stories of the women’s rambles through the desert and around the world, the sense of trust and connection strengthening between them. As Linda endeavors to find out more about her birth family, Bernays offers glimpses into her own childhood with a mother who would not approve of these choices, making clear how these issues have shaped both of these women’s lives and relationships. Bernays writes with clear-eyed tenderness, stirring readers to invest in this love story.
Takeaway: Touching story of a widowed scientist discovering unexpected love in the desert.
Comparable Titles: Cameron Esposito’s Save Yourself, Sophie Santos’s The One You Want to Marry (And Other Identities I’ve Had).
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A