Review: Lessons in Chemistry

Lessons in Chemistry
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Elizabeth simply refused to accept limits, not just for herself, but for others.”

This is one of the top three reads of 2021 for me. I have loved every single moment I spent with it. I loved Elizabeth, I loved six-thirty, I loved Mad, I loved every character in this book. I loved the story. I loved how serious and how light and profound and how enjoyable it was.

“Elizabeth revealed that there were hundreds, maybe thousands of others, and that no human spoke them all. In fact, most people spoke only one—maybe two—unless they were something called Swiss and spoke eight. No wonder people didn’t understand animals. They could barely understand one another.”

This is the story of Elizabeth, who is a chemist and then a TV show cooking host. She has a daughter Mad and a dog six-thirty in 1960s California. Her story is sad and harrowing and funny and energizing and deeply deeply inspiring. She is truly one of a kind.

“Chemistry is change and change is the core of your belief system. Which is good because that’s what we need more of—people who refuse to accept the status quo, who aren’t afraid to take on the unacceptable.”

The writing and characters in this book were exceptionally well done. The dialogue is sharp and on point. There are some major triggers for rape and a lot of sexism. Some might not resonate with this book or Elizabeth but, for me, it was one of the best I’ve read.

“Whenever you start doubting yourself,” she said, turning back to the audience, “whenever you feel afraid, just remember. Courage is the root of change—and change is what we’re chemically designed to do. So when you wake up tomorrow, make this pledge. No more holding yourself back. No more subscribing to others’ opinions of what you can and cannot achieve. And no more allowing anyone to pigeonhole you into useless categories of sex, race, economic status, and religion. Do not allow your talents to lie dormant, ladies. Design your own future. When you go home today, ask yourself what you will change. And then get started.”

I will not forget this story and Elizabeth for a long long time.

with deep gratitude to Doubleday and netgalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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