Chemistry

Chemistry

eBook - 2017
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Random House, Inc.
Winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award 

A Washington Post Notable Book

One of the Best Books of the Year: NPR, Entertainment Weekly, Ann Patchett on PBS NewsHour, Minnesota Public Radio, PopSugar, Maris Kreizman, The Morning News

Winner of Ploughshares’ John C. Zacharis Award

Winner of a Whiting Award

At first glance, the quirky, overworked narrator of Weike Wang’s debut novel seems to be on the cusp of a perfect life: she is studying for a prestigious PhD in chemistry that will make her Chinese parents proud (or at least satisfied), and her successful, supportive boyfriend has just proposed to her. But instead of feeling hopeful, she is wracked with ambivalence: the long, demanding hours at the lab have created an exquisite pressure cooker, and she doesn’t know how to answer the marriage question. When it all becomes too much and her life plan veers off course, she finds herself on a new path of discoveries about everything she thought she knew. Smart, moving, and always funny, this unique coming-of-age story is certain to evoke a winning reaction.

Publisher: Alfred A Knopf Inc.,, 2017
ISBN: 9781524731755
1524731757
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: Baker & Taylor Axis 360
Alternative Title: Axis 360 eBooks

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samcmar Apr 24, 2018

I devoured this book in two sittings. I was just so absorbed in Wang's prose, and I loved the lack of clarity and the brevity of thought provided by the protagonist. She definitely thought some things that I found I could relate to, easily regarding his discomforts in life. This is very much a character study, so I wouldn't recommend this to plot-driven readers, but would say if you want to slip into someone else's mind for awhile, this is a great book for that.

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Debneo
Dec 31, 2017

Some comments a bit harsh-yes? We are in this confused, insular person. Feeling insignificant results in self-absorbed egotism. Hurting others without an awareness of impacting others. A decent peek into this type of mind. A quick read. Young writer. Let's see some more before we judge.

LPL_PolliK Dec 27, 2017

We meet the narrator when she is reaching a crucial junction in her life: can she love chemistry unconditionally and is that enough to finish her PhD? Can she love and marry a good man who loves HER (mostly) unconditionally? Can she be honest with her parents, Chinese immigrants who have put mountains of conditions on their love for her? The narrator winds us around through vignettes, to the roots of her life, to find out how and when her walls went up and if she is capable of growing anything that looks like love when she can't remember the seed being planted. A good debut and I look forward to reading more from Weike Wang.

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mjohnson313
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.

s
sinister31
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.

lindab1111 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.

k
KatG1983
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.

l
laphampeak
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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Debneo
Dec 31, 2017

Debneo thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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