The Signature of All Things

The Signature of All Things - Elizabeth Gilbert, Juliet Stevenson Our passions and our reasons determine who we are and how we see the world. The protagonist, Alma, is all left brain, scientific, analytical, rational and good at language arts. The two other main characters Prudence (good at poetry, dance, and music), her sister, and Ambrose who sees the world only from his emotions are both right brain. The main protagonist learns that it takes both to give real understanding and happiness.

There is so much to like about this book. You get a great peek into early America circa 1820, evolutionary biology, slavery (it's the right brain girl, who gets it, the girl who can feel the answer), and the connections all of us have which makes us whole and how it takes the rational and the holistic to understand.

I did not realize until I asked "why was Roger, the dog" in the story. Then I realized that he represents the reincarnated soul of Alma's mother and the interconnectedness of all living things with all other living things. Alfred Russel Wallace in the story tells us how we are connected and shows how the analytical completes the holistic. Roger, was a no nonsense dog and really just liked to be left alone until he meets Alma's uncle who he had a natural affinity for, as if the dog had always known him like a brother.

A great book for many different kinds of readers. A good way to learn about what science is and how the first step is always to create a taxonomy (a classification system), but understanding doesn't come until later steps which connect the pieces into a coherent whole are completed.