The Love Proof By Madeleine Henry Summary
The Love Proof: In this “captivating, heartfelt, and utterly unique tale” (Emily Giffin, author of The Lies That Bind), a brilliant physicist studying the nature of time embarks on an unforgettable and life-changing journey to prove that those we love are always connected to us.
Sophie Jones is a physics prodigy on track to unlock the secrets of the universe. When she meets Jake Kristopher during their first week at Yale they instantly feel a deep connection, as if they’ve known each other before. Slowly, their love lures Sophie away from school.
When a shocking development forces Sophie into a new reality, she returns to physics to make sense of her world. She grapples with life’s big questions, including how to cope with unexpected change and loss. Inspired by her connection with Jake, Sophie throws herself into her studies, determined to prove that true loves belong together.
“Fans of TheTime Traveler’s Wife will be blown away by Madeleine Henry’s The Love Proof” (PopSugar), a story of lasting connection, time, and intuition. It explores the course that perfect love can take between imperfect people and urges us to listen to our hearts rather than our heads.
About the Author
Madeleine Henry is the author of two novels, The Love Proof and Breathe In, Cash Out. The Love Proof was selected by The New York Times as a New and Noteworthy book, and her novels have featured in The Washington Post, The New York Post, and Entertainment Weekly. Previously, she worked at Goldman Sachs after graduating from Yale in 2014.
The Love Proof By Madeleine Henry Introduction
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Before they met, Jake Kristopher was sitting in the third row of Woolsey Hall, Yale’s biggest auditorium, glancing up at the balcony behind him. Woolsey was packed with teens dressed up for freshman assembly, on the energetic brink of their first college semester. Sophie Jones was craning forward over the balcony rail when Jake caught a glimpse of her and went still.
She had golden hair and wore a white dress with a bumblebee woven on one shoulder. As people around her chatted, she sat alone. She looked younger than everyone else. The longer he stared, the more his feeling swelled that he’d seen her before—no, more than that. Known her.
Sophie found his gaze in the crowd. His black eyebrows were knit together, dark as ocean depths. Her stomach fluttered as if he were a tide pulling her under with him. The jock next to him suddenly turned around and blocked her view with the width of his shoulders. Sophie leaned back, dropped her hand to her gut, and wondered why she’d felt such a charge.
“Is it Sophie or Sophia?” Professor Ali Kotak asked, slanting toward Professor Peter Malchik. They sat an inch apart at the Yale Physics Department meeting. Her name, of course, was Sophie Jones—“The Next Einstein,” according to the New York Times’s profile. In that piece, the three most decorated mathematicians in the world had predicted she would be the one to answer humanity’s legendary questions about space and time within the decade—the most profound, undefeated ones about what reality is, with transformative implications for mankind.
“Sophie,” Peter whispered casually.
His Yale-blue bow tie stood out in the room of wrinkled button-downs and rayon polos. Peter was an angular man with prominent knuckles, elbow joints, and kneecaps. He exhibited perfect posture in the drowsy meeting, where everyone faced the chair, a hefty Russian astrophysicist named Pavel Kapitsa, speaking at the head of the table. Meanwhile, Peter tapped his blue pen on the notebook open in front of him, flecking blue confetti, and thinking eagerly, tensely, about how close he was to meeting her after waiting so long.
“…She elected to study time,” Pavel droned, his voice deep. “ ‘How can we see time?’ ”—Pavel bent his fingers into crisp air quotes—“is her stated research question. Peter will be her advisor, but she’ll run into everyone here at one point or another, and she may approach any of you.” Pavel gave Peter an expectant look, his stare soft under snowy eyebrows.
“Now?” Peter asked.
Pavel nodded and motioned for him to stand. Peter rose as tall as he could at five foot seven. His thin cheeks stretched as he forced a smile, though he didn’t care much for the men and women around him. Most people irked him. He thought Sophie would be an exception.
Ever since she’d committed to Yale last winter, she’d become a visual earworm. Sometimes it was her face that came to him: unusually blonde hair in sinusoidal waves down to her waist, her expression cool, contemplative. Peter had a habit of thinking in shapes, which improved his natural memory tenfold. Sometimes he saw her as an apeirogon, a polygon with infinite sides. On the black stage of his mind, she appeared as a bright, magnificently intricate disco ball, with dazzling complexity and limitless potential.
Last year, Sophie had aced the International Mathematical Olympiad—the top math tournament for high schoolers—for the fourth time in a row. The IMO had drawn the most gifted students to compete annually since the 1950s. No one else had earned a perfect score four times. Only one other had aced it three times.
Sophie’s world record had ignited a global news cycle featuring her as a prodigy: front-page newspaper articles, including the Times’s “The Next Einstein,” and TV interviews, including four minutes on Good Morning America. Peter had a fan’s grasp of her already. From clips, he knew her voice was childlike. Her manner was vulnerable, sweet. Every answer she gave was gentle and… feminine. A girl.
There weren’t many at her level of scientific thought, and no one else so young. She was so docile, so un-intense, that her success seemed to be through no will of her own and instead supernatural. She often tilted her head to the side, seemingly absorbed in something else entirely, as if she straddled reality and a dream. Her long hair added to the mystical quality.
“Hello,” Peter said. “Pavel’s asked me to speak about how I’ll be working with Sophie. She’s been enrolled in a new course, an advanced tutorial, where we’ll be working one-on-one. The plan is to meet once a week for two hours. In between, I’ll assign ten problems, all on time theory. We’ll discuss her solutions together. As Pavel said, she wants to answer the question, ‘How can we see time?’ ”
Everyone saw the evidence that time was passing—clocks ticked, seasons changed—but Sophie wanted to see time itself. In her college essay describing what she would study at Yale, she’d asked: “What exactly is passing, and where is it? How can we see time?” She cited Albert Einstein. In 1905, Einstein had introduced the concept of special relativity, the breakthrough understanding that the three dimensions of space were fused with time in a seamless, four-dimensional fabric.
So, as Sophie wrote in her essay, “If space and time are fused in a continuum, why can we see space but not time?” Matter is observable to the naked eye and reduces to atoms. Light, too, is visible—from red all the way to violet—and reduces to photons. “Why not time?” The question lay in Peter’s area of expertise. He’d been studying time for the past decade at Yale while teaching the school’s only class on the subject. In the process, he’d become the world’s most published expert on time theory.
He’d opined most extensively on the possibility of traveling back in time. He’d argued in major journals that it was possible to do so through a wormhole, a theoretical tunnel connecting different regions of space-time.
“What’s so special about her?” Peter’s son Benji had asked at dinner last night.
Peter prodded his fusilli.
“You like video games, right?” he asked.
His wife, Maggie, glared at him across the table.
“Yeah,” Benji said.
“Okay, imagine the most difficult, the most awesome game you know,” Peter said. “Imagine the highest level in that game, the one you’ve never been able to pass. Now, imagine you meet someone who’s a better player than you. She can pull off moves you can only dream of—triple-axel over enormous mushrooms—”
“Whoa,” Benji said.
“But she’s never played this game before,” Peter went on. “She’s asked you to coach her just a little bit. And the more you learn about her, the more excited you get because you know, really know, that with your help, she’ll not only pass the highest level you’ve ever seen, she will win the game.”
Back in the meeting, Pavel motioned for him to sit.
“Thank you, Peter,” he said. “When’s your first session?”
Jake ran into the lecture hall and scanned for a seat. Hundreds of open laptops dared class to start. Their cursors pulsed like pinned clock hands. Conversations—lively, still buzzing with icebreaker questions—dwindled into attentive silence. Jake lifted the collar of his black tee away from his chest and fanned himself with it. He was squinting at the professor below when he spotted a familiar head in front. On instinct, he strode toward her, passing ponytails like pendulums.
“Excuse me,” Jake apologized as he cut across the front row. In the center, Sophie was leaning forward and resting her pen on her bottom lip. Her tight red tee clung to her chest. Her jean shorts were patterned with bright sequined shapes—purple star, green moon, butterfly with two antennae—and fringed at the hem.
The outfit seemed oddly young, as if it were meant for someone half her age. When she glanced up at the shuffling noises, Jake waved. His gut feeling about her was stronger now. He had the sense they’d shared something important. He couldn’t remember what, but it had made them similar, as if they’d both been wounded by the same thing. They had been fragile together. They had survived something.
He sat next to her and smiled kindly.
Wait, Sophie thought. How do we…?
PowerPoint slides changed. Sophie faced forward but peeked sideways as he opened his laptop. The man’s muscles were etched like ones in an anatomy textbook: from the deltoid capping his shoulder, to the paired biceps and triceps, to the smaller brachioradialis and flexor carpi on his forearm, and then countless blue veins. Sophie had never seen a harder body.
She liked the way it looked alive. His black tee waved at the neckline, suggesting years of being yanked off overhead, big thumbs stretching the stitches.
Oh. Sophie raised a blonde eyebrow so faint it was nearly invisible. From assembly? That didn’t feel like the full answer. His smile had shown more recognition than that. He had looked happy to see her. She kept peeking at him. He didn’t take many notes. When he did type something, it was a quick clack just a few words long. Still, she could tell he was listening, deeply rooted in this moment.
He seemed more grounded than other students scribing every word, as if he had a keen sense for what was important.
This Introduction to Psychology lecture had packed the house. The professor asked a series of questions describing the course. Topics included the brain, dreams, love—“What makes someone attractive? What makes two people fall in love?”—sex and morality, each detailed in a preview. Jake didn’t believe the professor had answers to any of these fundamental questions of existence—who did?—but he stayed for the girl beside him.
When the professor finished, thin applause broke out in pockets. Jake, hands on his keyboard, waited as she slipped her notebook into her backpack stuffed with hardcovers.
Sophie had her first meeting with Professor Malchik that afternoon. He’d sent their syllabus that morning, so Sophie knew that today, they would discuss the origin of time. Most physicists agree that space and time were created in the big bang almost fourteen billion years ago. For the first 10-43 seconds of history, the universe fit into a space smaller than a proton.
All four fundamental forces—gravity, weak interaction, strong interaction, and electromagnetism—were unified in conditions so strange and incomprehensible that no one has yet described them with any physical laws. At 10-43 seconds, gravity split from the other three forces, and the universe as we know it began to take shape.
As Sophie zipped her backpack shut, she was half thinking about the start of everything and half hoping she and this man would leave at the same time.
She slung her arms through the straps.
“Hey,” Jake said.
He towered over her at six foot four. Sophie smiled for a moment shorter than 10-43 seconds before they moved in step with the crowd.
“I’m sorry, how do we…?” she asked.
Her question lingered as he opened the door for them. It destabilized his comfort with her. Why did he feel like they’d shared a history? On the sidewalk, they stopped and took each other in. Jake’s gaze dropped to the inch of skin between her shirt and shorts. Her short nails were painted white. The bracelets up her arms—unsculpted, soft—were beaded with different phases of the moon, with a sunlike orb in the middle.
A starfish glinted in the V-dip of her silver necklace chain. Her face was so bare, Jake saw something Aphroditic in her, as if she’d emerged from something as natural as sea-foam. Sophie took in Jake’s dark hair, tan, and brown eyes. He had a big nose. His lean cheeks pointed to a sharp, clean chin. Up close, she saw something undeniably sober, thoughtful about him. It was in his posture—straight back, low shoulders, balanced—this sense of purpose.
Sun warmed their skin as they stood. Particles of light bounced between them. Some of these specks had just come from the sun, through ninety-three million miles of the galaxy in eight minutes; past stars, planets, and through gas, dust, and empty black soundlessness before touching them. Jake and Sophie stood three steps apart, their bodies connected by light.
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The Love Proof PDF
|February 15, 2022