Author: Weike Wang
Review: The opening to Chemistry was good, it is told in a third person perspective which isn’t my favourite to read but I was intrigued by the scientific aspects of this novel. The protagonist is worrying about her life especially her relationship with Eric as he keeps asking her about marriage and children but these things don’t fit into her analytical life. She also finds her passion for chemistry waking as times goes on and she re-analyse her life and where she wants to go in the future.
As we approach the 1/4 mark in the novel we see the protagonist have a slight mental breakdown as she knows her relationship, her love of chemistry and her academic life are all going downhill. The protagonist reminisces about her turbulent and difficult children as her family immigrated from China, the breakdown of her parents relationship and how she and Eric have almost nothing in common. When Eric suggests she seeks psychiatric help she immediately dismisses the idea. Although after some thought and encouragement she does being to visit a therapist where she is told she has some anger issues which come out in semi violent bursts like the beaker incident.
As we cross the 1/4 mark in the novel we see the protagonist`s life speak further and further out of control. She thinks of her relationship with and the relationship with her parents and what they give her. She also thinks of her Chinese heritage and how her mother resents her for becoming American and how her mother resents her father for moving them away from China. She also knows that if Eric has to move for work that she won’t follow him but she also won’t make him stay because of this their relationship has stagnated and he is trying to help her understand but she doesn’t really want to. She also wants to quit her PhD and do something else but she doesn’t know what. Because of her lack of focus she also loses her tutoring rule and does nothing except the domestic tasks like walking the dog, thinking always thinking but never acting.
As we approach the halfway mark in the novel we see the protagonist going nowhere she refuses to accept she has problems even when she is kicked out of university and has to find another or when Eric leaves her because he wants to make something of himself while she is content to do nothing. As we cross into the second part of the novel she tries to analyse the lives of the people around her like her parents, Eric and her best friend and why they make the decisions they have but no matter how hard she tries she just can’t understand them. I did like how many different diverse aspects were added like national identify, social class and gender to name are few. The protagonist tries to understand why other people think there is something wrong with her life when she herself can’t see the issues but she also learning to be happy within her own skin rather than try and please everyone. The final pages of this novel were great, the protagonist is progressing and finding herself and is beginning to realise what she wants from life rather than what she has been programmed to want.
Overall, Chemistry was good, I really liked the scientific elements of this book and is often used to mirror the character’s personalities. This book is a single person’s journey of self-discovery and outside that not a lot happens but I did really enjoy the light and contemporary feel of the novel.
I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley
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