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3.74  ·  Rating details ·  18,736 ratings  ·  2,743 reviews
Named by The Washington Post as a Notable Work of Fiction in 2017 and by Entertainment Weekly as a Best Debut Novel of 2017
Named a Best Book of 2017 by NPR, Ann Patchett on PBS NewsHour, Minnesota Public Radio, Maris Kreizman, and The Morning News

National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” Honoree

Longlisted for the Aspen Words Literary Prize

A luminous coming-of-age novel about a
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published May 23rd 2017 by Knopf Publishing Group
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Barbara I don't remember anything really offensive, but it's a great book that taught me more about biases that affect Americans from Asia. I grew more compas…moreI don't remember anything really offensive, but it's a great book that taught me more about biases that affect Americans from Asia. I grew more compassionate from it. (less)
Connie I’m not sure if these are recommended by the author specifically, but here are the suggested books in the discussion section at the end:
Walks with Men…more
I’m not sure if these are recommended by the author specifically, but here are the suggested books in the discussion section at the end:
Walks with Men by Ann Beattie
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
The Dog of the Marriage: The Collected Stories by Amy Hempel
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
Bluets by Maggie Nelson
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill(less)

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Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  18,736 ratings  ·  2,743 reviews

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Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Taut novel, tight prose. Fascinating approach to telling a story. Lots of ambition here. Found myself so frustrated and willing the narrator to make the choices I wanted her to make. So many lovely moments and turns of phrase. Interesting ending. Liked this book very much.
Miranda Reads
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Shout out to this absolutely fabulous book in my latest booktube video is up - all about the best books I read each month and 2019's bookish stats (and yes, I really did read 365 books in 365 days!).

Now that you know this one made the cut - check out the video to see what other ones made my top 12 list!

The written review:


As a graduate student.... this one got to me.

It was real. Painfully real.

The burnout. The depression.

The loss of feeling towards something you once loved.

And yet,
Larry H
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm between 3.5 and 4 stars, so I'll round up.

Here's a bit of a cautionary tale for those of you who might put too much pressure on your children to succeed academically, or those of you who push yourself too hard.

"The optimist sees the glass half full. The pessimist sees the glass half empty. The chemist sees the glass completely full, half in liquid state and half gaseous, both of which are probably poisonous."

Chemistry is spare and slightly quirky, yet it is surprisingly profound and movi
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

One of the best novels I have read in 2017, Chemistry won me over with its earnest depiction of a Chinese American woman struggling to navigate her 20s. Our unnamed protagonist has always lived by the mantra "you must love chemistry unconditionally." She runs into trouble when, partway into her prestigious Chemistry PhD program, she encounters failure through a series of unfortunate events. To make matters worse, her kind and intelligent and successful boyfriend Eric has proposed to her
Joce (squibblesreads)
The way I feel about this book is why representation in books matters. Some themes include being raised in a collectivist culture (China specifically, and growing up in a country that places intensely high value on academic achievement - look up "gao kao", a series of tests after students finish high school that determine the good majority of their future, and the pressure that parents place on their children), and moving to a country that has more individual
Éimhear (A Little Haze)
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"A Chinese proverb predicts that for every man with great skill, there is a woman with great beauty.
In ancient China, there are four great beauties:
The first so beautiful that when fish see her reflection they forget how to swim and sink.
The second so beautiful that birds forget how to fly and fall.
The third so beautiful that the moon refuses to shine.
The fourth so beautiful that flowers refuse to bloom.
I find it interesting how often beauty is shown to make the objects around it feel worse.
I didn’t love Chemistry but it kept me curious enough to want to finish reading it. I remember reading many mixed reviews on this book when it was first released and it’s easy for me to see why.

The narrator is an unnamed woman living in Boston, completing her Ph.D. in Chemistry. She lives with her boyfriend, Eric, who is also in school. She questions herself in multiple aspects of life, both personal and professional. While I can appreciate that people change their minds every day about big dec
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
These sentences. They are choppy. The reader. She does not like them. The plot. It is thin.
Jessica Woodbury
I admit I am weary of novels about directionless twenty-somethings, they are often boring and derivative. But CHEMISTRY has a controlled sharpness. It is jagged. It never lets you fall into a rhythm and I love it for that. It takes the entire book to really understand the narrator, how she is hurt and how she tries to love, and even in her narration she will draw you in and then push you away.

I studied Chemistry in college. Every bit of science (and there is a lot) rang true. Maybe the narrator
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Is it bad to relate super hard to a narrator that other reviewers describe as “unlikable”? Asking for a friend.

(But seriously, is it?)

Weike Wang’s debut novel is a patchwork of the narrator’s internal monologue, memories from her painful childhood, and vignettes of her relationship with a fellow graduate student. Oh, and scientific factoids. Despite how disjointed and piecemeal that sounds, it all comes together into a flowing, almost hypnotic read. The narrator (never named) has a perfectly n
Michael Ferro
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In much of the same vein as Sigrid Nunez's, THE FRIEND, Weike Wang's CHEMISTRY is a short novel chocked full of incredible insight, philosophical witticisms, and dynamic personal narrative. For all of the major thinking that this novel will make you do, it will also make you laugh out loud as you consider its bigger questions. Wang's prose is sharp, honed, and pleasingly economical—there's no fluff here—just the essentials.

Though the plot itself doesn't break the mold—a bildungsroman focused on
i liked a book too much and now i can only read books by that author.


reading books by asian authors for aapi month!

book 1: kim jiyoung, born 1982
book 2: siren queen
book 3: the heart principle
book 4: n.p.
book 5: the hole
book 6: set on you
book 7: disorientation
book 8: parade
book 9: if i had your face
book 10: joan is okay
book 11: strange weather in tokyo
book 12: sarong party girls
book 13: the wind-up bird chronicle
book 14: portrait of a thief
book 15: sophie go's lonely hearts club
book 1
May 26, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-for-me, fiction
This was so boring. There isn't much of a story, but what there is of one follows a young woman who is studying for a PhD in Chemistry. She soon drops out, and the rest of the book follows the aftermath. The story was written in such a simplistic way, devoid of any real emotion, and I get that this was probably to put across how the protagonist felt in her current situation... but it was so monotonous. At least it was short and I didn't waste too much time on it, but I really wouldn't recommend ...more
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
What is a rate? he asks.
It is a number divided by time.
What is a ratio? he asks.
It is a number divided by another number.
What is the difference between a rate and a ratio?
One is a subset of the other, like a square is always a rectangle but a rectangle is not always a square. (c)
The optimist sees the glass half full. The pessimist sees the glass half empty. The chemist sees the glass completely full, half in liquid state and half in gaseous, both of which are probably poisonous. (c)

/ / / Read more reviews on my blog / / /

3 ¼ stars

“Chemistry, while powerful, is sometimes unpredictable.”

Chemistry makes for a quick yet compelling read. While the narrative tries a bit too hard to be quirky, I did find certain scenes and or sections to be fairly amusing. Chemistry implements those ‘in’ literary devices such as an unnamed narrator and a lack of speech marks that I find somewhat predictable. Still, the story focuses on a Chinese American woman in her thirties who is studying for
Jennifer Blankfein
Follow https://booknationbyjen.wordpress.com for all my reviews and recommendations.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this book titled Chemistry! Author Weike Wang’s unnamed narrator, a Chinese-American Ph.d. student, lives with her redheaded boyfriend behind her traditional parents’ backs. Despite the high expectations for their daughter to become a chemist, she is unable to be successful in her research, losing interest in her male dominated field and having difficulty making deci

I loved this so much. I was reading the whole time thinking of why maybe others wouldn't-- the stream of conscious narration, the open-endedness and the inability to relate to the ideas of family pressure, achievement and culture impressed on immigrants and first-generation Americans. Wang has these turns of phrase that just made me smile, even while I was hurting for her main character. It was beautiful and flowed so well. A powerful little book and one that I will carry in my feelings for a lo
Sep 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Wang writes in a staccato, pithy style that builds in intensity. As the novel progresses, the unnamed narrator reveals more and more about herself, the demands of her parents, the difficulty of succeeding as a scientist, her fear of love and suspicion of marriage. She has a fresh, poetic lens through which she views the world. I wanted to shake her at times - some of her decisions felt so self-destructive. By the end, she brought me to tears. But hopeful.
Carol (Bookaria)
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, fiction
I enjoyed reading this story. The main character and narrator is unnamed, she is a doctoral student in Chemistry who lives with her boyfriend Eric. She is Chinese-American and arrived to the U.S. with her parents when she was 6 years old. That is the main plot, but what the author does wonderfully is take us in a journey through the thoughts of the main character and listen to her inner dialog about the struggles with her relationships, parents, studies, and life in general.

The book is well wri
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, own

"It was once believed that heart cells could not regenerate, that once they died they could not be replaced. Now it is known that the heart can renew itself. But the process is very slow. In an average person, the rate is 1 percent each year."

I loved this book! It was a slow burn that steadily caught up with me, and punched me in the gut. Wang was so skillful at using facts about the sciences and language to drive home her ideas. It was genius, and I came away knowing a lot more about the "s
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I adored the first 3/4 of this book - particularly hearing about the combination of pressures caused by her parents, her graduate program, and her mental health. The verse shifts throughout the story (which makes sense given the protagonist's headspace), but I personally found the last 1/4 less engaging. ...more
Cindy Burnett
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chemistry is a difficult book to describe, but I was very glad I read it. Weike’s unnamed protagonist embarks on a soul-searching journey to find herself. Unmoored by her lack of success in the scientific realm and her indecision about whether to accept her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, she begins therapy and pursues a job as a science (specifically chemistry) tutor.

The format of Chemistry really appealed to me. The story jumps around a fair amount in sync with the protagonist’s scattered mind
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5-4 stars. The narrator of this short novel has pushed herself for years academically, and now she's in a PhD chemistry program, and nothing's working out. Her experiment is a long series of failures, her boyfriend's asked her to marry and she can't seem to bring herself to say yes or no. And she holds such anger and pain in herself from the exceedingly high expectations put on her by her parents, who emigrated to the US from China years ago. The narrator's mother was deeply angry and frustrat ...more
Aug 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was initially tough finding my way amidst the choppy verse. It’s disjointed and scattered - which makes sense as the narrator finds herself torn. Living up the the expectations that come with being a second generation Asian, navigating the perils of her Ph.D and trying to figure out what to do with the marriage proposal from her entirely devoted and loving boyfriend.

Like Jill Alexander Essbaum’s Hausfrau, where the rules of grammar spill into the how that narrator navigates her relationships
Chemistry was without a doubt my worst subject in high school. I have such a lingering resentment toward it that I almost dismissed Chemistry the novel for its title alone, but I was able to put my hatred of the subject aside long enough to really enjoy this - though I'm not sure 'enjoy' is the right word. This is an incredibly intense book, and I felt like I wasn't able to truly come up for air until I'd finished it.

Chemistry is The Bell Jar meets The Vegetarian but also something a bit lighter
This was fine - a short, quick read that follows a chemistry PhD as she struggles with her next steps in life. I liked the writing style and was drawn into the family drama, but ultimately the story was fairly bland and it didn't leave enough of an impression on me. I think this book could be great if you were in the right mood to really sink into the writing and inhabit the main character, who is by turns inspiring and frustrating. It will also depend on how you feel about the science metaphors ...more
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Take an unnamed narrator – the daughter of Chinese immigrants and a chemistry Ph.D. student – with a compellingly fresh and authentic voice. Add in a ton of ambivalence that reveals itself in her conflicted attitude toward her career and her love life. Toss is a bit of arcane chemistry trivia and some profound comments about creating a life with meaning.

What you end up with is sheer chemistry, and Weike Wang succeeds in crafting a book that’s genuinely soul-searching and compelling, a book that
⭐ 3.33 stars

I'm very much in like with this book and I'm not surprised by the sheer number of those who love it. I liked the journal/stream of consciousness style of the writing. The peppering of interesting science facts throughout and the way Wang gently interrogated her relationships and childhood. I've been trying to figure out why I didn't love it and I think it's because I've read some incredibly creative books in this vein in the last 9 months and it suffered in comparison.

I especially re
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't understand the rave reviews of this book. Yes it was quirky and original, but for me it was definitely lacking readability and interest.
Life choices. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

1. How academia screwed you over.
~Well, you want to relive your postgraduate years? Or even better, the wasted years before you said, "Screw it!" and bailed. Revel in the masochistic torture.

2. How your family baggage drags you down.
~The good, the bad, and the ugly. Family, there's nothing like it.
A year into our dating, Eric says he wants to understand me and not just from a distance or through what he calls my ten-inch thick bulletproof
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Weike Wang is a graduate of Harvard University, where she earned her undergraduate degree in chemistry and her doctorate in public health. She received her MFA from Boston University. Her fiction has been published in or is forthcoming from Alaska Quarterly Review, Glimmer Train, The Journal, Ploughshares, Redivider, and SmokeLong Quarterly.

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“An equation.

happiness = reality - expectations
If reality > expectations, then you are happy.
If reality < expectations, then you are not.”
“The optimist sees the glass half full. The pessimist sees the glass half empty. The chemist sees the glass completely full, half in liquid state and half in gaseous, both of which are probably poisonous.” 28 likes
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