At the most basic level, Convergence is a cautionary tale about four young researchers pursuing a career in the field of Neuroscience. Against the backdrop of scientific endeavor, the novel highlights some of the barriers that can exist in the transition period between graduate school and long-term academic success.
Although scientific method and discovery play an essential role in each story, greater emphasis is placed on the interactions between the personalities involved. Indeed, Convergence is more about how four personal journeys are bound together by common experiences and reoccurring themes.
The four main characters are located in culturally and geographically different regions of the US, allowing for a diversity of backdrops as their stories unfold, with Angela Sun (of Asian origin) located in New York, Callie Piaz (of Central American origin) located in Corpus Christi, Bridget Desai (of Indian descent) located in San Diego, and Tamaria Keswick (a Caucasian American) located in San Francisco. They all come from impoverished backgrounds and have had to battle hard just to gain access to higher education, let alone pursue advanced degrees and develop their careers thereafter. The four protagonists are strong-willed but battle-weary. They are very creative but their search for success through honest endeavor is constantly undermined as they encounter unimaginable set-backs and fall foul to unscrupulous colleagues..
Although the hidden agendas of their adversaries are eventually exposed, the progress of their respective careers remains in doubt right up to the end. To undo the injustices they believe each of them has suffered, they are forced to take a huge risk that could easily be the ruin of them all.
Binding these stories together is The Narrator, a man with a dubious background, who comes to the attention of a journalist, The Reporter,. She starts out investigating him but finds he has quite a different story to tell, four in fact, each one about a woman seemingly unrelated to the other three.
At the start, The Reporter is deeply suspicious of the Narrator's past as well as his motives but as he retraces the career paths of the four women, she begins to sense that the empathy he displays for their plight might not be mere coincidence. However, just what connects the Narrator to the four young scientists eludes the Reporter, until the very end.
The novel is part cautionary tale, part perilous journey, part treachery and subterfuge, part overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds, and is told essentially as a trilogy. There are rich details that fill out the four main characters, giving each story a unique quality. However, there are overlapping issues that bind the four women and the Narrator together, giving the novel a very consistent theme that threads its way through the book.
Although each story can be read in isolation, as the novel develops it becomes increasingly clear that there are much bigger issues than the struggles of these four individuals. Indeed, buried within their stories are numerous sub-plots that suggest these struggles are far from unique and indicate that there may be forces against which the four young scientists are powerless to resist. Ultimately, these larger issues shape the lives of all the people involved.
The book can easily be enjoyed at the literal level but there may be some who wish to embrace the more allegorical nature of the novel, which the author hopes will be the case. Whatever reason you chose to read this book, the author challenges the reader to take the same journey as each of the four women.