3.67 (4,848 ratings by Goodreads)
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Named a Notable Work of Fiction in 2017 by The Washington Post and one of PBS NewsHour's 5 Books from 2017 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 more

Product details

  • Hardback | 211 pages
  • 135 x 206 x 23mm | 318g
  • Knopf Publishing Group
  • English
  • 1524731749
  • 9781524731748
  • 162,133

About Weike Wang

WEIKE WANG is a graduate of Harvard University, where she earned her undergraduate degree in chemistry and her doctorate in public health. She received her MFA from Boston University. Her fiction has been published in or is forthcoming from Alaska Quarterly Review, Glimmer Train, The Journal, Ploughshares, Redivider, and SmokeLong Quarterly. She is a 2017 "5 Under 35" honoree of the National Book more

Review quote

Chemistry is a genuine piece of literature: wise, humorous, and moving. Ha Jin With its limpid style, comic verve, and sensitive examination of love, need, and aspiration, this exquisitely soul-searching novel is sure to be one of the most outstanding debuts of the year. Sigrid Nunez Science is an excellent lens for Weike Wang s look at a young woman s wonderfully skewed experience of love, ambition, loyalty, and, of course, chemistry. The pressure to excel, as applied by immigrant parents, comes up against basic questions of self-discovery: Find me the thing that I can make the greatest impact in and I will do that thing, says the chemistry whiz who has gone off course. This very appealing narrator is funny and original, and the novel is filled with compelling information from the world of chemistry as well as gems such as Einstein s thoughts on love, communicated to his daughter. In a word, this debut is: elemental. Amy Hempel Chemistry casts a rare spell, some alchemic mixture all its own. Though her ingredients are familiar being young, uncertain, and estranged Weike Wang gives them to us anew; her wry, off-beat vision demands that we look again, as if for the very first time. Casey Schwartz, author of In the Mind Fields"show more

Rating details

4,848 ratings
3.67 out of 5 stars
5 21% (1,010)
4 39% (1,885)
3 30% (1,439)
2 8% (390)
1 3% (124)
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