Wilbur's serious face almost makes it look like he just walked in on these two. Photo by Kate Ota 2021
After weeks of reading high stakes fantasy, I decided to grab a lighter option with The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood. I’d seen it on Twitter and Instagram and as a person who suffered through grad school, I couldn’t help but love the concept. It’s an adult romance which centers on a grad student and a professor (who is NOT in charge of her thesis, let’s make that clear). It was funny, light, a little awkward, and hot.
The main character, Olive, is a socially awkward 3rd year PhD student who initiates a fake relationship with the closest man she can grab—who happens to be the campus’s notorious grumpy (but still hot) professor. The trope of fake dating dictated what would happen, so I was never truly concerned about getting a HEA (happily ever after), but I still enjoyed the ride.
I learned after finishing that this book began as a fanfiction AU (alternative universe) about Rey and Kylo Ren from Star Wars. And you know what, I totally see it. You can even kind of see it on the cover, with the way Olive’s hair is in that loose bun. If Rey and Kylo Ren’s canonical interactions were like this book, I may have even been okay with whatever was happening in those movies.
On the downside, it gave me flashbacks to the worst parts of grad school. Professors being cruel for no reason, lack of funding tanking your future, imposter syndrome, professors not emailing you back even though you desperately need to join a lab somewhere—anywhere—why didn’t anyone respond?! Anyway. That probably won’t be a problem for most readers. However, trigger warning for sexual harassment and abuse of power.
If you’re looking for a quick read with romance, comedy, and realistic academia, this book is for you. If you’re in it for the science, look elsewhere. Unless you’re studying anatomy.
Have you read The Love Hypothesis? Did you enjoy it? Did you know a weirdly high percentage of grad students date professors? (The exact stat was given to me by a fellow grad student once, and I forget what the number was, but it was weird then and still weird now.)