Do the Math
by Philip B. Persinger

"'If a doctor marries a receptionist,' he formulated frantically. 'And if new wife contracts brain fever –' ... 'Brain fever?' Sheffiel asked. 'What doctor is this? Dr. Dostoyevsky?'"

Persinger mixes the unlikely elements of love with math. A romance told from the quirky point of view of Roger, a would-be mathematician and senior at the fictional Garrison College. The story centers on William Teale, a former mathematics genius and current university professor. He is married to a Virginia "Faye" Warner, a successful romance author who uses a ghostwriter. Faye is left without this crutch while William is working on his thesis. Their relationship changes drastically, and William finds himself falling for a past paramour.

Richly detailed and set in the Hudson Valley, this novel delves into both the pocket protector geekdoom world and the eccentric fan base of the hearts and flowers world. Throughout, Persinger offers snappy observations: "Do you know why teachers all wear the beast: 666? ... It stands for six hours a day, six months a year and six years before your next sabbatical," and spot-on insights into human nature: "An optimist sees the glass as half full, the pessimist as half empty. ... But a realist knows it can shatter at any time."

The characterization, attention to detail, and rhythmic narrative all underscore the promise of a first time novelist. Do The Math is a love story told in such a way that it appeals to men and women, to the naïve and the jaded, to algebra whizzes and those with math phobias. It will be interesting to see if Persinger continues to write works that appeal so fully to both the heart and the brain.

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