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New medical thriller asks, "Can you plan a perfect life?"

Michele McDonald


Eileen Pollack's new novel, A Perfect Life, took a while to find a publisher.

The book features a postdoctoral research scientist on a quest to uncover a genetic test for the disease that cut short her mother's life. This medical mystery also features a love story between the protagonist, Jane Weiss, and a man who may also carry the disease, adding human drama to the scientific exploration.

Still, the complexities of this plot were sometimes lost on publishers. One even told Pollack that "men don’t read fiction written by women, and women’s book groups don’t want to read something with science in it!"

Pollack’s own career, which includes a physics degree from Yale and time as the director of the Helen Zell Writer’s Program at the University of Michigan, upends the notion that women aren’t interested in science. In fact, it was by running experiments in her then-husband's biology lab that Pollack learned the process--and the stakes--of searching for genetic disease tests.

Pollack sees her novel as not just a medical thriller with a female protagonist, but also a story about the very human dilemmas that science can open up.

When her main character searches for a genetic test for a disease that she may have inherited, she is also searching for clear answers to larger questions: will she be able to get married, or start a family, without exposing her loved ones to the pain of disease and early death?

Ultimately, these questions probe deeply, not just into the genetic code, but into what it means to live "a perfect life."

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