LISTENING TO: 'The Arc' by Tory Henwood Hoen
Cool premise: at The Arc, for about $50k, you get a guaranteed match with the man or woman of your dreams. Not just a regular dating-app-esque match though; a gold-standard one, based on complicated algorithms blah-blah-blah. Anyway, who cares how it works? The point is, you're almost 100% guaranteed to be compatible with the person you match with, on all levels. Ursula matches with Rafael and darned if it doesn't seem to work. Quirky Ursula and solid, steady Rafael are not only wildly attracted to each other, they enjoy and are amused by each other, they become best friends. Until there comes a glitch ... of course there does. Because this is a romance novel after all. But it was more than that.
Besides its satirical treatment of our trend- and technology obsessed world, and the difficulty making genuine connections with people both personally and professionally, there was an underlying feminist message. Ursula has a strong, supportive best friend who both calls her on her shit and celebrates her zany nature; and Ursula herself is a boss to a young woman who she tirelessly champions in the workplace and looks for opportunities to reward. And Ursula doesn't need a partner, she just freely acknowledges that she wants one, and a baby, and a family, without having a sense of "emptiness" with her life as it is. She has friends, and hobbies and a career. She isn't incomplete when she meets Rafael, she just wants someone to share the ride of life with. I also liked that the conflict in the relationship wasn't based on a slender thread of a stupid misunderstanding, amplified to create drama, but on real-life differences that could cause many couples to wonder whether they want to same things.
And then thrown in there, the intriguing factor of The Arc methodology and the questions it raises: is there a "perfect" person out there for everyone? Can a good relationship be designed, if you just know the right ingredients? And can true love be made, or does it have to happen organically? It was fun watching the characters grapple with these questions that most of us--coupled, and uncoupled--have at one time or another considered for ourselves. A fun, quick listen.
Audiobook note: the narrator nailed it. She had a tongue-in-cheek, almost glib manner that captured the spirit of the book and the funny flirtatiousness of the couple. Her female and male voices were distinct and identifiable for each character and didn't come across as campy, which can sometimes happen when someone is voicing characters of the opposite sex simultaneously. Recommended for a fun, lighthearted, though not shallow listening experience.
Have a listen: https://amzn.to/3LX7q28