eBook - 2017
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Random House, Inc.
Named by The Washington Post as a Notable Work of Fiction in 2017 and by Entertainment Weekly as a Best Debut Novel of 2017
Named a Best Book of 2017 by NPR, Ann Patchett on PBS NewsHour, Minnesota Public Radio, Maris Kreizman, and The Morning News

National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” Honoree

Longlisted for the Aspen Words Literary Prize

A luminous coming-of-age novel about a young female scientist who must recalibrate her life when her academic career goes off track; perfect for readers of Lab Girl and Celeste Ng's Everything I Never Told You.

Three years into her graduate studies at a demanding Boston university, the unnamed narrator of this nimbly wry, concise debut finds her one-time love for chemistry is more hypothesis than reality. She's tormented by her failed research--and reminded of her delays by her peers, her advisor, and most of all by her Chinese parents, who have always expected nothing short of excellence from her throughout her life. But there's another, nonscientific question looming: the marriage proposal from her devoted boyfriend, a fellow scientist, whose path through academia has been relatively free of obstacles, and with whom she can't make a life before finding success on her own. Eventually, the pressure mounts so high that she must leave everything she thought she knew about her future, and herself, behind. And for the first time, she's confronted with a question she won't find the answer to in a textbook: What do I really want? Over the next two years, this winningly flawed, disarmingly insightful heroine learns the formulas and equations for a different kind of chemistry--one in which the reactions can't be quantified, measured, and analyzed; one that can be studied only in the mysterious language of the heart. Taking us deep inside her scattered, searching mind, here is a brilliant new literary voice that astutely juxtaposes the elegance of science, the anxieties of finding a place in the world, and the sacrifices made for love and family.

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


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

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.

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?


Add Age Suitability

Dec 31, 2017

Debneo thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Subject Headings


Find it at BPL

To Top