Kara Gnodde explores love, loss and the limits of mathematical certainty in her debut novel, The Theory of (Not Quite) Everything. Siblings Mimi and Art Brotherton have always been close, especially since their parents' tragic, simultaneous deaths. But Mimi is tired of looking after Art (they still share a house) and wants to try and find love. Art, a mathematical genius who struggles socially, agrees to Mimi's dating plan if she'll use his suggested algorithm to screen potential partners. When Mimi falls for Frank, another mathematician (whom she doesn't meet online), Art is initially nonplussed--but then distressed.
Gnodde switches between the siblings' perspectives, giving readers insight into their deep bond and the accompanying conflicts. Mimi has always believed Art was their parents' favorite and felt a deep responsibility to care for him while living in his shadow. Art, meanwhile, increasingly worries that someone may be usurping his work on a vital mathematical problem, which hampers his ability to trust Frank (or anyone). Gnodde employs thoughtful flashbacks, plus a few key present-day revelations, to shed light on the siblings' dynamic. Though the story contains plenty of wit and humor, both Mimi and Art must confront the grief that has kept them from moving forward. (Sensitive readers should be aware of several heartbreaking scenes involving hospitals, injury and death.) Gnodde's debut is wry, warm and romantic (like Mimi herself). She presents a loving portrait of family both biological and chosen and invites readers to engage in a hopeful exploration of the ways love upsets all careful calculations. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams