A Novel

Book - 2017
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"A novel about a young Chinese woman whose graduate studies in chemistry go off track and lead her to discover the truths about her goals and desires"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York :, Alfred A. Knopf,, 2017
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781524731748
Characteristics: 211 pages ; 21 cm


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Sep 25, 2017

This is one of those books that's written like this. You're in the narrator's head. What they think is what you read. You get an unfiltered glimpse inside their mind. They'll tell you what is going on. It's all rather tedious.

I suppose this is chalked up as a character study of a protagonist trapped between cultures. She's navigating the expectations of her Chinese-emigre parents and the follow-your-bliss freedom of growing up in America. We follow along (indeed, there is very little discovery here) as she experiences uncertainly in life and love, blowing through a year of her life with little focus or direction. A lot like this book.

There are clever turns of phrase, and the scientific asides are a fun diversion. The little snippets of chemistry, physics and math providing the only indication of something unique under the surface. Perhaps I'm just hard to please, but for a book about relationships, both familial, friendly and intimate, Chemistry elicited very little reaction.

Aug 27, 2017

I just can't understand the accolades for this dull, amateurish first novel. The protagonist muses ad nauseum in the first person about her long suffering, slightly boring boyfriend, and there are a plethora of sardonic comments about her work, her family, and people she encounters in daily life which are supposed to show she has an "edge". Here's my take. She obviously knows chemistry, but her writing has none. Don't quit your day job. If you're going to write a novel in the first person, you better be talented. For a brilliant first person novel try "The Destroyers " by Christopher Bollen.

lindab2662 Aug 07, 2017

Funny and poignant book about a twenty something Chinese American learning to navigate career, relationships and family. A quick read. Very enjoyable.

s33meread Aug 06, 2017

PhD candidates "cracking" under the pressure of academia is not unheard of, but this author has chosen to explore how that disciplined life moves next to human relationships. The story told through the lens of this bright, yet quietly conflicted young woman is insightful, warm and honest.

Jul 26, 2017

Chemistry is told in a non-linear fashion, with pieces of the story doled out in bite size pieces mixed in with collaborating scientific facts. The style of the narration matches the protagonists' state of mind, and the potential breakdown she faces. I found it kind of fascinating, but lacked the bite necessary to make it really good.

Jun 28, 2017

The story has the pace of a refreshing, brisk walk. The author's background in chemistry shows up as the atoms that hold together the structure of the story with humor in the space between. The narrator, main character, has a childhood that lacked affection and emphasized knowledge and no choice. Here is a story that characterizes these traits through an interesting, quirky protagonist and her struggle toward self-discovery.

debwalker May 30, 2017

Burnout at PhD level. Funny take on growing up in the pressure cooker. What's it like?


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