Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
A Five-Star Book Review
I’m calling it. Lessons in Chemistry is officially one of my favorite reads for 2022! Bonnie Garmus exceeded all expectations with this book, introducing unique characters, exploring multi-layered plot lines, and delighting us with fantastic writing.
Elizabeth Zott is a chemist, one of the rare females in her field in the 1950s. Because she’s a woman, her professors, bosses, and colleagues assume that she’s more suited for fetching coffee than trying to solve abiogenesis. She faces sexual harassment in every part of her work, but her strong will and intelligence keep her going.
Upon her first encounters with Calvin Evans, the golden boy of the laboratory that employs them both, Elizabeth is wary of befriending him. But soon, a sweet love – full of chemistry – blossoms. Yet, life doesn’t work out as a love story for Elizabeth, and by the 1960s she finds herself not working as a chemist in a lab, but hosting her own cooking TV show, Supper at Six. Her opinion that cooking is chemistry, her straightforward manner, and her rightful belief that women can be more than housewives.
The result? A story of growth, wit, and perseverance for Elizabeth and the cast of supporting characters, from her highly intelligent daughter Mad to her dedicated neighbor Mrs. Harriet Sloane to her TV producer Walter Pine.
What I Loved About Lessons in Chemistry
- Elizabeth – She is hands-down one of the strongest female protagonists I’ve encountered in a long time. Her story is tragic but also triumphant, and that’s because of the depth of her character.
- Mad – This little girl is just as blunt as her mom, and she’s equally bright, too. She’s young and innocent, but she understands that her mom has been through so much.
- Six-Thirty – This former military dog is the loyalist, most loving dog. I loved when Ms. Garmus added Six-Thirty’s perspective to the chapters. From fetching Mad at school every day to learning 891-plus words, Six-Thirty has my heart.
- The Resolution- I won’t give away anything to spoil the ending, but I will say that I was so satisfied with how Ms. Garmus completed this story.
- The Message – Reading about the harassment, the bigotry, and the injustice that Elizabeth and other female characters faced in this book was difficult, and it made me question how much has really changed. as Elizabeth said many times: gender, race, religion, or creed makes no difference in a person’s abilities or what opportunities they should be given.
I hope you will read Lessons in Chemistry! I loved every bit of it.
Trigger Warnings: Harassment, assault