Oh, this book. I thought I had my favorite books of the year all figured out, and then emmalita came around saying the newest Milan was awesome. I really didn’t like the first in the Cyclone series, but I’m trusting of such high praise. And it didn’t let me down.
This is story of Maria and Jay. Maria and Jay have actually been friends for years, unbeknownst to both of them, on the internet. They meet for the first time due to a mutual friend in Maria’s brother, and start off terribly. This is hate to love like nobody’s business. There’s a lot more to the story involving a bisexual hero and a trans heroine, but that’s not what made me crumble with this one.
So Ms. Milan, before being a romance writer, was once a scientist. If you’ve read The Countess Conspiracy you can tell. That book hit me in the scientific feels like no other (yes, we do have feelings). Until this one. I was regularly quoting to Mr. Beth Ellen lines (as he’s also one of us), and yeah. It was true and real, and it made me remember time and again why I ran away from academia like I did. There were parts describing the sexism of the industry that he disagreed with, but I’ll be honest, he still has inherent sexism that he doesn’t even realize is there. To this day I still dress pretty much like a slob at my job, because in complete honesty I’m taken much more seriously than if I were all done up. It’s a stupid thing, but true. Look nice? You can’t be smart enough to know what you’re talking about. Look like you just rolled out of bed? Maybe she has a valid opinion (and that maybe is key). Ms. Milan does not shy away from any of the sexism in STEM, and it’s courageous of her. Once again, like The Countess Conspiracy the love story comes second, and her confronting very personal issues for me wins the day.
I clearly can’t even write coherently about this one. This book was just incredible. And everyone, EVERYONE, should know that all of the conversations still happen regularly. I guarantee it. Here’s some favorite lines:
“You’re a goddamned professor. If you assume your female students who care about their appearance don’t know math, you’re doing them an incredible disservice.”
“Because it shouldn’t matter. Saying, ‘I didn’t know you knew math, so I’m sorry I treated you like a nonperson’ is also fucked up. People who don’t know math also deserve respect.”
“I don’t think women are stupid per se; I reserve that judgment only for the women that engage in overt displays of socially constructed femininity”
And the best description of getting PhD both Mr. and I have ever read,
“Step one: stop feeling self-conscious about things not working. You want a PhD? Well, guess what. You’re going to be issued a wall, with instructions to beat your head against it for a few years. If you’re lucky, the wall will crack, and you’ll write about the structural integrity of walls. If you’re unlucky, your head will break, and you’ll write about the structural integrity of heads. Either way, we have to talk about failure. If you can’t get over your ego and just talk about what you did and what happened, this will take four times as long. You failed. Get used to it. Some of the biggest scientific breakthroughs came about because someone failed and figured out why. Don’t worry about failing. Worry about failing wrongly.”
So Ms. Milan, thank you. Thank you for confronting something that was and still is real and awful. You want to know what women don’t stay in STEM jobs? Read this book. That is well more than half of the men out there today in the industry, and our hero actually grows! This book made me cry more than once, due to flashbacks to my own time in hell. But I survived, and found a much better path for me. All of this crazy, rambling review is to say, read it. Read this one. It’s just so good.