An review of The Harvest of Reason by Rhea Harmsen

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5.0 out of 5 stars Cerebral Romance, April 2, 2011



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This review is from: The Harvest of Reason (Kindle Edition)

The Harvest of Reason is definitely NOT your typical IR book- and that for me is a really good thing. Instead of focusing on how big a guy’s “package” is or creating unbelievable scenarios and sprinkling in sex scenes, this book focuses on the developing relationship between Maddie (a black woman) and John (a white man), both of whom are PhD candidates.

In the opening chapters of the book, you see that Maddie has already formed a negative opinion of John based on his reputation as a “ladies man” and her own hidden insecurities. Despite the fact she is an intelligent woman, she still suffers from moments of doubt about her skills as a scientist and feelings she can’t quite describe each time she gets near John.

As for John, he was intrigued by Maddie from the moment he laid eyes on her, and couldn’t understand why she held him in such disdain.

Once Maddie and John began interacting, both had a profound effect on one another. Particularly interesting was John’s maturation. He realized that character, intelligence and values are more important than good looks (although Maddie had all these aspects). Maddie also realized that she had been too judgmental and presumptuous with John. She had almost missed an opportunity to be with a good man.

I called this a Cerebral Romance because it touches on some pretty heavy topics. There is racism, sexism, and egoism. The author does not try to gloss over the racial differences between Maddie and John. The author also gets really into the scientific subplot. Now, either I am really into agriculture or Rhea Harmsen is a good writer, because the scientific journey Maddie experienced was downright interesting. I never knew the hard, back breaking work that scientists go through.

At the core of this book were two people who found each other and developed a relationship. They did not fall into bed after the first meeting. In fact there is no sex in this book, which may disappoint some. They learned about one another and discovered that they wanted to be life partners. That’s pretty deep and something that is sorely lacking in your typical romance story.

It would have been nice to have an epilogue that gave a peek into what happened to Maddie and John once they got married, but that’s a small complaint.

Kudos to Rhea Harmsen.

About rheaharmsen

Rhea Harmsen is a scientist, novelist and author of Language of the Spirit, a volume of selected poems. She has also released three novels, The Harvest of Reason, Intermarry, and God Created Women. Harmsen was born in a family with a black father and a white mother at a time when interracial marriage was still illegal in some states. Her parents gave her a vision of world citizenship that informs her writing and her lifestyle and has caused her to reject traditional views of race and gender. Harmsen's article "Science in the Hands of Women: Present Barriers, Future Promise" appeared in World Order in 1998 and provides the foundation for the story line for her novel The Harvest of Reason. She co-published the Monroeville Race Unity Forum Bulletin and authored many poems on racial topics, crystallizing the "conversation on race" in the novel Intermarry. Her work with domestic violence survivors in Puerto Rico inspired the novel God Created Women. Harmsen holds a doctorate in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She currently resides in Puerto Rico. Upcomming projects are described in her web page at
This entry was posted in agriculture, bahai, chastity, female professors, genetic engineering, genetics, graduate school, interracial marriage, plant breeding, race, race in America, race on campus, unity in diversity, University of Wisconsin-Madison, women in science and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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