Review

“A deftly crafted and thoroughly fun read … especially and unreservedly recommended for elementary school, middle school, and community library Fantasy Fiction collections.” —MBR Midwest Book Review

Lessons in Chemistry

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Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus is a captivating novel that takes you on a journey back to the 1950s and 60s, a time when women were not encouraged to pursue careers in science. Elizabeth Zott, the main character, is a fierce and intelligent woman determined to become a chemist no matter what society (aka men) tells her she should or should not do..

Garmus does an excellent job of bringing Elizabeth to life, showcasing her fortitude and perseverance in the face of adversity. As Elizabeth faces challenges in her personal and professional life, she resolutely pushes forward, never giving up on her dreams. Her passion for chemistry is palpable throughout the novel, and the author does an excellent job of explaining complex scientific concepts in a way that is accessible to readers.

Beyond Elizabeth’s love of science, Lessons in Chemistry is also a story about what it takes to change. Elizabeth’s journey is not just about becoming a chemist; it’s also about breaking down barriers and challenging the status quo. Garmus gives us an excellent portrait societal norms of the time and how they impacted brilliant women like Elizabeth. Through her often awkward and excruciating struggles and triumphs, Elizabeth becomes a symbol of hope and inspiration for women everywhere, their champion, even as she copes with unexpected changes in her own situation.

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“Whenever you feel afraid, just remember. Courage is the root of change – and change is what we’re chemically designed to do. So when you wake up tomorrow, make this pledge. No more holding yourself back. No more subscribing to others’ opinions of what you can and cannot achieve. And no more allowing anyone to pigeonhole you into useless categories of sex, race, economic status, and religion. Do not allow your talents to lie dormant, ladies. Design your own future. When you go home today, ask yourself what YOU will change. And then get started.”

— Bonnie Garmus, Lessons in Chemistry

The author has created a compelling and relatable character in Elizabeth Zott, and her journey towards becoming a chemist who is taken seriously is both inspiring and thought-provoking. It’s darkly funny and poignant as it highlights how far women have come and just how far we still need to go.

Although science and chemistry are at the heart of the novel, Lessons in Chemistry is also a story about love and relationships. Elizabeth’s relationships with her friends, her lover, and her child are all central to the story, and Garmus does an excellent job of weaving together these different threads to create a rich and complex narrative. Elizabeth’s love for her daughter is particularly moving, and serves as a reminder that even in the face of professional challenges, family and personal relationships remain important.

In all, Lessons in Chemistry is a beautifully written and engaging novel that will appeal to anyone with an interest in science, history, or women’s studies.

Whether you’re a fan of historical fiction or simply looking for a great read, this is book is a winner. I was so sad to finish it!

Highly Recommended


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