Book Review: Chemistry


Title: Chemistry
Author: Weike Wang
Publication Date: May 23, 2017
Pages: 224
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Date Started: May 26, 2017
Date Finished: May 28, 2017
Format: Hardcover


I have never read a book that hit me as hard as Chemistry. After reading the first half in one sitting, I had to put it away, due in no small part to the fact I was bawling my eyes out. And I want to make it clear, this is not a sad book, I just connected to it on such a visceral level.

Chemistry follows a young woman who is pursuing a PhD in chemistry, who eventually leaves her program. (Can you figure out why I was interested in reading this book yet?) Very few books contain a woman scientist as the protagonist, let alone a graduate student in science. I  needed this book, I needed it to show I wasn’t alone in my struggles. Wang portrays the experience of grad school perfectly. The frustrations and expectations in this career by both family and lab mates are undeniable. Ask any PhD student, and you will learn of the abuses and depressions that plague the field. Ugh, I’m getting all flustered just writing about the book. (Just to be clear: I love science, I will continue with science, awesome people should be scientists, it’s just hard sometimes).

The writing in this novel is a little different. It is an internal monologue, told in the first person, though after reading Sorry to Disrupt the Peace and Unwind, I didn’t have too much trouble with it.

In short, I recommend all scientists to read this book, especially women grad students. Though only when in a healthy frame of mind.

Overall, 4/5 moose



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