Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus is stunning, beautiful and inspiring. This incredible read revolves around a quirky, splendid, take no bull female character who stands her ground in a male-dominated profession. I think the most astounding aspect about Lessons in Chemistry is the amount I laughed uncontrollably. I think this new writer will go far in her writing career. This is a very well written, fast paced book set in the 1960’s with bunches of exciting twists and feel good moments.
In the early 1960s, the story happens in the southern California town of Commons. The common view on female is best described by the well-known sitcoms of the day – think Harriet Nelson, Donna Reed, and the Beaver’s mother, June Cleaver.
Elizabeth Zott is our primary character and she is born ahead of her time. Her dream about becoming a research scientist unexpectedly closed when her mentor in her program sexually assaulted her and denied her entrance into the PhD program. Along with that, her workplace at the Hastings Research Institute isn’t much better; she is downgraded from her position as a chemist to a lab tech by narrow minded boss and ultimately terminated.
As her life unfurls, she loses her first love, turns into the mother of an “ill-conceived” child, and in the middle of all this, she hosts an afternoon TV program highlighting cooking based on chemistry. The show not just trains females to cook from a totally different point of view, but in addition moves the crowd to think about bold, new opportunities for their lives.
The characteristics I appreciate most about this female character – what makes her a genuine champion – are her trustworthiness, her integrity and her diligence. While her ability to stand up for her reality in the face of overwhelming social and cultural prejudice toward ladies overall and in science explicitly, her firm stance guarantees she won’t ever “fit in” – a somewhat lonely and disappointing presence.
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus is an amazing debut book with quirky characters, socially relevant topics, emotional swings, winks of humour and some funny moments. I loved this story and I highly recommend this book.