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Chemistry: A novel: Weike Wang: 9781524731748: Books

Posted: September 27, 2018 at 9:46 am

Chemistry starts as a charming confection and then proceeds to add on layers of emotional depth and complexity with every page. It is to Wangs great credit that she manages to infuse such seriousness with so much light. I loved this novel. Ann Patchett

The most assured novel about indecisiveness youll ever read . . . The title Chemistry also, of course, alludes to love. But in Chinese the word for chemistry translates to the study of change. The novel is equally about the narrators slow self-transformation and her relationship with [her boyfriend] Eric. Both have arrived at a catalytic moment: the indecision each reaction faces before committing to its path . . . Chemistry is narrated in a continual present tense, which, in conjunction with Wangs marvelous sense of timing and short, spare sections, can make the novel feel like a stand-up routine. Personal crises are interrupted, to great effect, with deadpan observations about crystal structures and the beaching patterns of whales. The spacing arrives like beats for applause . . . Despite its humor, Chemistry is an emotionally devastating novel about being young today and working to the point of incapacity without knowing what you should really be doing and when you can stop. I finished the book and, after wiping myself off the floor, turned back to an early passage when the narrator asks her dog, What do you want from me? You must want something. It doesnt. Jamie Fisher, The Washington Post

"A novel about an intelligent woman trying to find her place in the world. It has only the smallest pinches of action but generous measures of humor and emotion. The moody but endearing narrative voice is reminiscent of Jenny Offill's Dept. of Speculation and Catherine Lacey's Nobody is Ever Missing. Fans of those novels will find a lot to enjoy here . . . Moments of tenderness are repeatedly juxtaposed with moments of misery . . . The [narrator] tells us there is a phrase for family love in Chinese that in translation means 'I hurt for you.' This love, rather than romantic love, feels like the true subject of the book. Chemistry will appeal to anyone asking themselves, How do I create the sort of family I want without rejecting the family I have?"Rowan Hisayo Buchanan, The New York Times Book Review

Beguiling . . . with wry observation and witty distraction . . . A funny, idiosyncratic story of a young woman with big brains, big family baggage and a wonderfully fresh voice sorting out a world of science, language, dogs, counseling therapy, a BFF and her baby, SAT tutoring, Boston weather, cases of wine, TV cooking shows--and piecing together the right chemistry in her life . . . Wangs narrator spices her daily ups and downs with a little bit of science here, a Chinese language oddity there, shrink-talk and a running stream of observations about parents and child- and dog-rearing . . . Wang has an astute feel for the deep, scary uncertainties of a young, talented woman trying to shake off a demanding family and a derailed career and relationship. Chemistryis full of surprises--its many digressions congealing to yield an impressive literary blend. --Bruce Jacobs, Shelf Awareness"One of the years most winningly original debuts . . .Nearly every page is marked by some kind of breezy scientific anecdote or asidepithy, casually brilliant ruminations on everything from meiosis and mitochondria to what makes rockets fly. That its all so accessible and organic to the story is one of the books most consistent pleasures. So is the texture and tone of Wangs language, a voice so fresh and intimate and mordantly funny that she feels less like fiction than a friend youve known forevereven if she hasnt met you yet.Grade: A"Leah Greenblatt,Entertainment Weekly

Outstanding . . . Unfolding in brief chapters studded with observations about her childhood and scientific facts,Chemistrymay be the funniest novel ever written about living with depression.Kim Hubbard,People, TheBest New Books

Wangs heroine, a young Chinese-American woman who is emotionally and professionally adrift, feels crushed by the expectations of her demanding parents, and by the pressures of her prestigious Boston university and her competitive male-dominated field, synthetic organic chemistry. She is also deeply ambivalent about marriage and committing to a career in synthetic organic chemistry. Chemistry is a sort of anti-coming-of-age story: Instead of figuring out how to be an adult, the narrator learns to live with uncertainty and indecision . . . In a deadpan voice, Wang drops in arcane chemistry trivia and captures the quirky, cutthroat subculture of science graduate students. Alexandra Alter, The New York Times

What happens when you get a degree in chemistry from Harvard, but feel a competing pull to the world of narrative? You write a novel about this combustible state:Chemistryis a funny, wise debut about the heartache of uncertainty and the struggle to please others while forging ones own path.Nando Pelusi, Ph.D.,Psychology Today

A spiky, sparkling slip of a novel . . . with a singular take on love, lab science, and existential crises. Leah Greenblatt,Entertainment Weekly10 Best Books of the Year So FarAgenuine piece of literature: wise, humorous, and moving. Ha JinWith 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

Weike Wangs voice is indeliblehypnotic, mesmerizing, and strange in the best possible way. In Chemistry she creates a fully realized portrait of a brilliant mind in crisis, illuminating a corner of the human experience thats woefully underexplored. By the last page I was devastated, transported, and craving more. Emily Gould, author of Friendship

How do we learn to love if we havent been taught? That question seems to be the nucleus ofChemistry.Wang challenges the conventions of the marriage plot: the story begins with a proposal, falls into an alienating existential crisis, and ends in the morally ambiguous territory of self-actualization. The force of the novel is the narrators perfectly-executed voice, unflinching and painfully self-aware as she deconstructs her lifedisastrously, bravelyto see if there is anything at the bottom she can hold on to.Stephanie Danler, author ofSweetbitter

Chemistry(appropriately enough) explodes the stereotype of the model minority. Wangs voice is a revelationby turns deadpan and despairing, wry and wrenching, but always and precisely true. Peter Ho Davies, author ofThe Welsh GirlandThe FortunesChemistryis a sly and infectious book. I read it quickly, galloping through the pages, marveling at the insight and the charm of this narrator as she uses her scientific impulses to explore the world around her and, ultimately, herself. Cristina Henrquez, author ofThe Book of Unknown Americans

Arebellious debut: a wry, subtle, deeply attuned examination of love, immigration, family, and chemistry in all its forms. With its dark wit, probing self-examinations, and profound meditations on science and the soul, this is a novel for fellow seekers. Sarah Gerard, author ofBinary StarandSunshine StateScience is an excellent lens for Weike Wangs look at a young womans 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 Einsteins 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 familiarbeing young, uncertain, and estrangedWeike 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

A clipped, funny, painfully honest narrative voice lights up Wangs debut about a Chinese-American graduate student who finds the scientific method inadequate for understanding her parents, her boyfriend, or herself . . . Wang [has a] gift for perspective. Publishers WeeklyIf you loved both the brains and the heart of Jenny Offills short yet emotionally epic novelDept. of Speculation, Chemistrywill be your next favorite read. Wangs eloquent debut is full of short vignettes on the nature of love and overbearing families and academic failures and complicated relationships, all told through the lens of science. Chemistry proves to be a useful metaphorical tool for describing the messy moments in life for which no perfect formula exists. Maris Kreizman, Vulture Spring Preview 2017EndearingEqual parts intense and funnyThe narrators voicedistinctive and appealingmakes this novel at once moving and amusing, never predictable. A wry, unique, touching tale of the limits of parental and partnership pressure.Kirkus

Beguiling . . . wry and witty . . . A funny, idiosyncratic story of a young woman with big brains, big family baggage and a wonderfully fresh voice sorting out a world of science, language, dogs, counseling therapy, a BFF and her baby, SAT tutoring, Boston weather, cases of wine, TV cooking showsand piecing together the right chemistry in her life . . . Wangs narrator spices her daily ups and downs with a little bit of science here, a Chinese language oddity there, shrink-talk and a running stream of observations about parents and child- and dog-rearing . . . But her coping and sorting is not just about being cleverWang has an astute feel for the deep, scary uncertainties of a young, talented woman trying to shake off a demanding family and a derailed career and relationship . . . Chemistry is full of surprisesits many digressions congealing to yield an impressive literary blend. Bruce Jacobs, Shelf Awareness

There is the chemistry of elements and the chemistry of love. Wangs first person narrator swings between the two [in a] story that unfolds as a collage of memories and musings. What matters is the narrators refreshing openness to her world and her shunning of readymade answers. Complicating detours that arise from culture and race provide depth and density. But throughout, its her personal struggles that impel her curiosity about the ways past influences impact present choices. One way or another, weve all been there.Dan Dervin, The Fredericksburg Free-Lance StarA graduate student in chemistry at a rigorous Boston-area university, the sharp, self-aware narrator of this engaging work is having doubts about her career aspirations and her boyfriend. Named a Most Anticipated Novel of 2017 by Entertainment Weekly, the Millions, and Bustle, and they were right. Library Journal

In this debut novel, a graduate student in chemistry learns the meaning of explosive when the rigors of the hard sciences clash with the chronic instability of the heart. A traditional family, a cant-miss fianc, and a research project in meltdown provide sufficient catalyst to launch the protagonist off in search of that which cannot be cooked up in the lab.The Millions,Most Anticipated of 2017

Wangs novel depicts a smart woman confronting an unplanned roadblock in her carefully engineered path, then feeling her way toward a terrifying unknown . . . The work has [a] quiet, unassuming power, as the narrators clinical approach and outsider eye infuses the story of her mental breakdown with both wry humor and pathos . . . A capably crafted, thoughtful novel.Claire Fallon,Huffington PostA poignant tale of self-discovery that anyone whos ever felt a little lost will relate to.Jarry Lee,BuzzFeed,22 Incredible New Books You Need to Read This Summer

Its a laugh-out loud marvel. But that doesnt mean its not intenseand that wry intensity is underscored by Wangs writing style, a kind of staccato on the page. Wangs spare prose makes all of her emotionsboth happy and sadpack all the more punch. Sprinkled throughout are tidbits about chemistry that double as metaphors for all sorts of human emotionsI loved them and Im definitely not a science girl. Seeing the world through the lens of chemistry is novel, if only as a reminder that the messiness of life follows no particular formula.Leigh Haber, Book of the Month Club

With her academic career unraveling and an unanswered proposal from her boyfriend looming, Wangs narrator-- a young, female scientistthrows comfort and predictability to the wind, finally daring to ask herself what she really wants out of life.E. Ce Miller,Bustle,15 New Authors Youre Going to Be Obsessed With This Year

A longstanding complaint Ive had with so-called literary fiction is that it too rarely invents mathematicians, or scientists, perhaps because most writers know little about either field. (Delightful exceptions: Catherine ChungsA Forgotten Country, Yoko OgawasThe Housekeeper and the Professor, Jeanette WintersonsGut Symmetries.)Chemistrylooks like a worthy addition to the line-up.R.O. Kwon, Electric Lit 34 Books by Women of Color to Read This Year

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Chemistry: A novel: Weike Wang: 9781524731748: Books

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith