From advice columnist Meredith Goldstein, a dazzling, romantic, and emotionally resonant YA debut about a teen science whiz in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who tries to crack the chemical equation for lasting love and instead wreaks havoc on herself and the boys in her life.
For seventeen-year-old Maya, the equation for happiness is simple: a dream internship at MIT + two new science nerd friends + a perfect boyfriend = one amazing summer. Then Whit dumps her out of the blue. Maya is miserable until she discovers that her scientist mother, before she died, was conducting research on manipulating pheromones to enhance human attraction. If Maya can finish her mother’s work, maybe she can get Whit back. But when her experiment creates chaos in her love life, she realizes that maybe love and loss can’t be understood using the scientific method. Can she learn to trust the unmeasurables of love and attraction instead?
Meredith Goldstein is an advice columnist and entertainment reporter for The Boston Globe. She's written two YA books, a memoir, and a novel about a bunch of single guests at a wedding. She also hosts the Love Letters podcast, which explores all types of relationships.
Meredith's latest release is the YA book "Things That Grow," a fictional take on her real-life experience bringing her mother's ashes to beautiful gardens. The book is a love story featuring Lori Seltzer, a character who learns how to accept what's temporary, and how to care for the adults in her life who don't always know best.
Meredith's memoir is 2018's "Can't Help Myself." If you're a fan of rom-coms, vampires, advice columns, breakup tales, and stories about mothers and sisters, it's for you.
Meredith lives in Boston and can be found watching "Alias" and "What We Do in the Shadows" during quarantine.
This book had an interesting premise. What if you could create a love serum that could make someone fall for you using your pheromones? When Maya’s boyfriend dumps her, she’s desperate to get him back. Her mother’s old chemistry journals detail an experiment in its early stages that could potentially help. With the aid of an old lab partner, they set about testing the serum on a series of unsuspecting boys.
Please excuse typos/name misspellings. Entered on screen reader.
I really liked this synopsis, so I was pretty eager to get to it.
Maya is a decent character. She’s smart and even though she’s heartbroken, she has good intentions. Sadly, those intentions didn’t translate to character growth. I get that the experiment was important; however, she was quite careless when it came to the feelings of others.
Plot wise, it was sort of boring. I didn’t see the appeal of the boyfriend and the other “test subjects” are kept at a fairly shallow level. And since the entire goal of the story was for Maya to get back with the ex boyfriend, I struggled to stay interested. Plus the ending left a lot to be desired.
Overall, it was an interesting idea, but it was lacking a spark that I was expecting.
**Huge thanks to HMH Books for Young Readers for providing the arc free of charge**
First of all, let me put your mind at ease: you don't need to know anything about chemistry. Maya, however, knows everything there is to know about chemistry which is all thanks to her late mother who was a renowned scientist for epigenetics at MIT. Maya wants to follow in her mother's footsteps and study epigentics herself, and landing a summer internship in the lab at MIT her mother used to work at is only the beginning of her career. I loved that Goldstein decided to make Maya a scientist. There are still not enough women in scientific jobs, although girls and women are just as smart as boys and men and can become scientsts just as much. Hopefully a lot of young girls feel encouraged to pursue a career in science after reading the book - or give it a good thought at least.
Maya was a great character to read about. Her journey through her summer internship at MIT, her effort to continue her mom's research, while hanging out with her friends was fun and entertaining. At only seventeen, Maya's knowledge of science was impeccable, yet she was totally naive in other aspects of her life which made her very likeable. Researching a serum that manipulates human pheromones might not be the smartest idea but Maya had good intentions to continue the research, and an even bigger heart. The side characters fit all perfectly into the story. Not once did I ask myself what a certain character was doing there. They all belonged and played important parts toward the conclusion of the story.
The open ending might be unsatisfying to some readers because it isn't the usual happy ending readers are hoping or rooting for but I actually enjoyed it. Honestly, I thought it was perfect. Another scenario, the typical predictable ending, would have been wrong and not believable. The open ending actually entices the reader to imagine their own ending for Maya and her future. ;)
The entire premise of this is so flimsy I don’t know how it got greenlit for publication.
“I will change my pheromones to win my ex back who broke up with me.”
See how dumb that is?
Never mind that a PhD student would never risk her place in MIT (of all places!!) for a stupid high schooler to get her frisk on.
Never mind that the girl is fucking 17 (almost 18) and has had a boyfriend for more than a year and acts like little miss prude-y pants Anastasia Steele. Girl, you’re honestly going to tell me you’re shy about neck kissing and making out with a friend when you’ve had a boyfriend that long? No sex, no oral sex, no hand jobs for godsakes? Come on. Maybe if she were religious or had had a traumatic event in childhood, but otherwise? No.
No fucking way that college boy was happily keeping it in his pants for over a year.
And honestly, why would anyone even remotely believe that this was a true science experiment? There were SO MANY extenuating circumstances that they would never be able to control. It’s inherently flawed no matter how they tried to justify it.
Plus I’m just still really fucking irritated that the idea here is Maya is basically a genius and a prude. NERDS HAVE SEX TOO, YOU GUYS. IT AIN’T JUST THE “COOL” KIDS
Also, props for having a bad kisser in the novel. Fucking romance novels never have bad kissers. THEY EXIST TOO
Ciao readers. La Newton Compton mi ha inviato l'anteprima de “La chimica dell'amore” di Meredith Goldstein. Maya ha diciassette anni e sta svolgendo un tirocinio al MIT. Da poco il suo fidanzato l'ha mollata per un'altra e lei ne è uscita devastata. Casualmente scopre che la madre, famosa scienziata, prima di morire stava svolgendo una ricerca segreta sulla formula dell'amore e questo per lei è una soluzione per riprendersi l'uomo della sua vita. Contatta l'assistente della madre ed entrambe intraprendono esperimenti segreti per capire se davvero esiste un siero d'amore. Riusciranno a non farsi scoprire e a raggiungere l'obbiettivo di Maya? Maya, come la madre, vuole diventare una brillante scienziata. Ha tutto ciò che potrebbe desiderare: un tirocinio al MIT, un fidanzato di cui è follemente innamorata e amici che le vogliono bene. Peccato che il suo " meraviglioso" fidanzato, Whit, la molla per un’altra. Nulla sembra migliorare il suo umore, nemmeno i suoi amici, che le stanno sempre accanto, fino a quando non scopre la ricerca segreta della madre. È convinta che, se riuscisse a portare a termine l'esperimento, Whit si ricorderà quello che loro avevano e tornerà da lei. Tutti vorremmo un siero dell'amore, ma non è esattamente questo il significato che aveva in mente la madre di Maya. Lei voleva ravvivare la passione tra coppie che, dopo anni di matrimonio, si "spengono". Una causa che le fa onore dato l'alto numero di divorzi, ma che non è propriamente compresa da Maya: il suo unico pensiero è far tornare Whit. L'idea della madre di Maya è fantastica, diciamo che sarebbe un viagra per l'attrazione tra persone che già si amano, ma in nessun appunto parla di ricreare sentimenti, è una questione di sesso e basta. Però non posso biasimare Maya se, a diciassette anni, prova a ricreare l'amore. Spesso l'attrazione può portare ai sentimenti... Gli esperimenti prevedono che provi ad attrarre con il siero tre diversi soggetti: un amico, un estraneo e infine Whit. Presa dal suo obbiettivo, Maya non si rende conto di ferire alcune persone, specialmente quando, dopo l'esperimento sul suo amico Kyle, lui cambia del tutto nei suoi confronti. Sin dal primo momento ero a sfavore di Whit, ma dopo averla lasciata all'improvviso ha cercato di esserle amico, e mi sono infatuata per la dolcezza che ha Kyle per Maya senza essere invadente. È un storia dolce e carina, mi ha fatto passare del tempo piacevole. Lo stile è scorrevole e non mi sono annoiata per niente, anzi ho trovato l'esperimento della madre di Maya molto intelligente. Non so se sia fattibile, ma sarebbe la soluzione per molte coppie che stanno insieme da tantissimo tempo. L'amore non si può comprare, ma forse la libido sì. Non posso dirvi molto altro sulla storia o i personaggi perché scivolerei nello spoiler, questo libro è una ricerca e per sapere i risultati dovrete leggere. Buona lettura.
I received an ARC from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.
It's not the first time I've done this but I requested this book based on the cover and of course, a quick glimpse of the synopsis. It sounded like an adorable romance YA contemporary novel that will kick off my summer festivities. Chemistry Lessons did not disappoint me. With a fun plot, Chemistry Lessons follows a young scientific genius who is dealing with heartbreak. After discovering her deceased scientist mother had been in the process of creating a formula to make love last or make attraction grow stronger between two people, Maya embarks on the journey to find the answers in hopes of winning back her ex.
It sounds like a recipe for disaster. And it was. The point of this book is already flawed from the start as there was no possible way Meredith Goldstein could have ever defended an argument for our protagonist, Maya. Readers are smart enough to know that we can't possibly recreate love or generate something that could stimulate something that no longer was there. Or if it's possible, it wouldn't be ethically or morally right to implement the invention. Because if the only reason why your significant other is with you is because of a liquid serum you're eating, then is it really love or just another scientific manipulation?
If readers are smart enough to understand the root of the flawed plot, then they will enjoy the wild ride, Maya and her love interests takes us on. I enjoyed the story as I watched Maya discover herself and others she had put on a pedestal. Maya was a frustrating character at times as she repeatedly made the same mistakes, manipulating her friends emotions and making harsh judgments of others. But in the end, she sees the grief she has caused and makes up for it by being a better person. There is a lot of diversity in this book with different characters with different sexualities. It also includes a lot of wonderful pop references that make it more interesting for young readers.
While the idea was entertaining, at times, I found the execution of this book to be a bit dry. It had nothing to do with the plot but more with the writing. Everything seemed to fall a bit flat.
Chemistry Lessons is perfect for anyone who is a big fan of science and for those who want to enjoy a quick read on a warm sunny day. I would recommend this to my friend who studied biochemistry in college as the
Honestly a wonderful read—I breezed through it on a flight. I really enjoyed how relatable Maya seemed... She was flawed, but admirable, and had enough character development through the story to visibly understand how the plot had affected her. I couldn't put the book down (mind you, I lost a lot of sleep and am now severely jet-lagged) and loved it from start to finish. I only took off a star because it was a little conventional for me and because I don't love teen fiction; I'm more of a fantasy girl myself, so it probably influenced the way I perceived the book. Also, as a science student, it was really refreshing to see so many scientific concepts applied to real life. For example, when she begins to realize that she's manipulating her subjects, she starts to evaluate her trial based on ethics, which in my curriculum is a part of the exam. I felt as if I could completely understand what was going on, and it was all clearly written out. Also, the end was satisfying but still made me wonder; aka, the perfect ending.
Currently going through my Yallwest haul and deciding which book to read. I thought it would be apt to select the second arc I received from Yallwest. I actually missed an upcoming ARC drop because of this book so I might as well read this one first.
If you want to read about my *first* Yallwest experience, click here. But if you just want to read my review for Chemistry Lessons, then just stick around (and read on)!
Chemistry Lessons was such a delight to read! I think everyone can relate to its protagonist (Mara) as she tries to unlock the secret/s to long-lasting attraction. The reasoning behind this was to keep eros and/or passion alive. I mean, at some point, the excitement in seeing one’s significant other declines. The idea was to prolong the feeling attraction as if a couple were just in the initial stage of their relationship. What does my ramble have anything to do with this book? Well, Mara didn’t take her breakup very well and she wanted her ex to come back to her. Because of Mara’s interest in science and her summer internship position at MIT, she was able to conduct an experiment that may well be the answer to her dilemma.
I was completely engrossed in this story even if I knew that this experiment wasn’t going to work as expected. Only because Mara’s experiment was flawed from the start. How would she measure attraction, for instance? Even if she did make up a scale or a measurement for attraction, her results could still be influenced by outside factors since she had no control over different variables (i.e. the treatment given to her subjects and/or the setting of her experiment, etc). Henceforth, she can’t produce definitive result/s (and that was precisely the point). As a psychology major, I’ve been drilled to minimize bias or other factors that could affect the results of an experiment. I can go on and on but that’s not the point of this review. I didn’t even know why Ann agreed to Mara’s idea. Did grief made Ann completely forget the fact that Mara was still an incoming college freshman? Probably. This is why the novel was fun to read.
And yet I devoured this novel in ONE day. I liked how the result of the experiment was just like the ending of this story: inconclusive. It showed that there was more to Mara’s story besides the failure of her first relationship or the impossible cure to a breakup. And how the ugly feeling that comes along with a breakup was inevitable but ephemeral. There’s more to look forward to in Mara’s life such as college, friendships, a potential career, etc. All in all, it has this bittersweet ending and it sort of made me want to hug this book because I fell in love with its story and its main characters. I’d totally recommend this one!
* I got this book from the publisher for my honest thoughts*
This was a great book to kick off my summer reads season. I really loved how this book was focused on both grief but also science and experiments with love twist. I really found the self discovery path in this story to be super strong. I also really realated to the female/male friendship dynamics because that was something that defined my high school experience. I also liked how this book tackled grief but in a unique way. I flew through this book and really think that was because the structure of this book made the pacing of this book super well crafted. I also really loved all the side characters and the lead boy made me smile. I would def read more by this author in the future.
This is a book where my rating is heavily tempered by the blurb. If a book advertises itself as a pretty dumb idea, I feel as though I lose some of my right to critique said dumb idea, because what in the world did I think I was in for? As a fun, quick read, Chemistry Lessons isn’t bad at all, and I had less trouble than I arguably should have putting aside my morals for Maya’s Frankensteining.
First off, I have to give this book credit for some pretty interesting characters. Nobody felt copy-pasted, nobody felt bland, and the world itself felt completely real. Perhaps this is because people weren’t the usual monorace cishet Blorb that one finds in many YA/NA depictions of big cities, and because the protagonist is an accomplished STEM student, but I’d say this entire area of the book was a major step above its colleagues. I’m no STEM person (hence my illustrious career reviewing on GR) so I can’t speak to any realism; all I can say is that it was a refreshing break from bland who-knows-what-their-interests-are characters.
(Bonus points for Yael being very relatably Israeli! I felt warmed by the author dropping in that line about how her Hebrew sometimes sounds like she’s angry when she isn’t—it’s a universally acknowledged fact by anyone who knows them that Israelis are SCARY, and Yael felt very well written as a result. I see that Jewish last name of yours, Meredith Goldstein...)
(BRYAN! I will say no more. Just... Bryan.)
There’s also a major positive relationship between Maya and a grad student, Ann, wherein the two of them work together on the experiment and come to understand each other better through Maya’s mother’s work. You KNOW I’m going to boost the rating of any book where women come to understand each other better, let alone through OTHER women. Ann was an incredible (and incredibly fleshed out) side character, and while a lot of reviewers are shocked she would take part in something so ethically wrong, I honestly like it about her. I like a mildly evil, very wrong woman. I generally reject the idea that “nobody would ever” if enough serious motivation is given, and I think it was here.
Of course, that brings us to the plot, and if you’re reading this review, you’re probably wondering whether there’s some secret twist. Surely this isn’t really about sexually manipulating multiple people into being attracted to you, right? It’s somehow justified, or maybe there’s a secret reveal that actually it was placebos the whole time, or perhaps Maya never goes through with it...?
Nope. It’s played pretty much straight. And, again, I knew what I was getting into, so I was alright with reading that. I think the one star reviewers are totally within their rights to completely loathe the premise enough to tank the book. Honestly, the book didn’t discuss the issue enough for my tastes, and I’m surprised I was never too angry with it.
Part of that might be due to the fact that Maya doesn’t want to be involved in this, either. It’s Ann, of all people, who suggests using test subjects first, and Maya does not pick them remotely based on personal attraction. She ends up liking one of them, but her motive isn’t “let’s make a bunch of guys fall in love with me who otherwise wouldn’t so I can sleep with them.” She also repeatedly says that she doesn’t want Whit under her spell—she just wants to remind him that it could be good, and that it’s worth working towards. That doesn’t make it okay, but it puts me more at ease, especially given that the book DOES attempt to address this.
It’s also not really clear whether any of this stuff works. Maya’s mother’s test was on Maya’s father, who , and who was... well, married to her mom. He cared about their relationship. Maya’s test subjects are confused by her asking “well did you want to kiss me before or did you just start wanting to this week” because that’s an insane thing to ask someone. Is she boosting attraction that was already there? Is she doing nothing at all? Who knows. Science and feelings don’t work that way.
I also found that Maya was just... some idiotic teenager doing something idiotic because her mother was dead and her weirdo older boyfriend abandoned her. For that matter, I have to give hats off to Goldstein for writing a good character in Whit as well, because I understood his motivations, too—his breakup speech is surprisingly sympathetic, and I could imagine him living a real life outside of the pages he appeared on.
Maya is the reverse of Whit—just as Whit has made understandable bad decisions, Maya goes on to make some of her own. To her credit, she consistently breaks off anything that happens. I found one scene interesting in particular because of how it dealt with consent, which I’ll write a bit more about behind spoilers.
(And I think that, while all of the above is the reason I didn’t feel uncomfortable, again, that doesn’t mean the book isn’t uncomfortable, and like I said, this is still such a terrible idea on all sides. I think it helps that my expectations were so low, because the book ends up impressing me by not going all-in on the consent issues.)
THE ROMANCE. Let’s talk the romance/s. One thing that made me verycurious about this book was its potential for polyamory. If Maya tries her experiment on three guys, one assumes it won’t just be unsuccessful-unsuccessful-successful (leaving her only with Whit as a romance option), especially when Whit is pretty clearly set up as undesirable. We know most NA books position women in this situation to teach them that they can do better than their ex (Legally Blonde, anyone?) and thus we have to ask... why TWO men?
I’ll just tell you right now there’s no polyam at any point, and we can move on to discussing the rest in spoilers.
Endings. Oh, romance endings. You’re just so difficult! To this book’s credit, there was a great scene between Maya and the ultimate LI over text, which you know always makes my soul swim. I did have one incredibly silly trope-driven complaint, though—and that’s that we don’t get a final kiss! I absolutely understand that real life does not neatly fit into books, but, well... this is a romance novel. We get one kiss under false (drugged??) pretenses with our main LI, and then we don’t get a real one. It doesn’t help that the false pretenses are very steamy, and when we get to the end of the book there’s nothing close to as sexy for us to enjoy. It feels a bit underwhelming, and it doesn’t seem to make much narrative sense.
One last little thing: this book was done so dirty by marketing, and perhaps that’s made me more sympathetic to it. Were this a major series being turned into dozens of franchised films and Funko Pop figures, I’m sure I’d be more upset by it, but as it is, the title is bland and the cover could’ve been made more attractive in four minutes in Canva. I mean, I really thought that period table was written in Comic Sans. You have no idea how disappointed I was to come to GR and find out that the ARC cover WAS, in fact, the final one.
So, do I recommend it? To that very specific niche that appreciates poorly-done NA. I honestly liked this! I didn’t find myself pissed at it, and in the characters I found myself cozied up for real relationship development. I just think that you need to have a substantial ability to enjoy something cheesy and a little morally bankrupt, and then you’ll be good to go.
This is really sweet, though not without its share of super cringe moments, as all the best romance-with-misunderstandings novels have. It's a smooth read, but probably not how I would've paced or balanced it; it's definitely heavier on the science and lighter on the romance than I anticipated. (Also, heavier on the ex than the guy who actually matters.) Still, I have a soft spot for female science nerds, and for Jewish MCs, and for Israeli characters, and also I love how every secondary character in this book is gay.
I will admit that I side-eyed this premise (high school chemistry intern decides to carry on her dead scientist mom's research into pheremones, in an attempt to get her boyfriend to get back together with her) but really enjoyed the book! Maya and her BFF Bryan are great characters. I also enjoyed all the fun Cambridge/MIT-specific details to the setting. I also appreciated that the cast is fairly diverse. Without going into too many details, I do think the ethical/scientific questionability of the whole thing is addressed in a way that left me, at least, satisfied, though obviously it still would not hold up to, you know, scientific scrutiny. (But that's also kind of the point, she's a grieving teenage girl with an interest in science! She's maybe not making the best choices!)
bonus appeal factors: women in STEM! YouTubers! Drama geek drama!
A great one for fans of Jenny Han, Sarah Dessen, etc.
I loved this book. And I feel a little guilty for loving it so much. I mean, the plot is like something lifted straight out of a Disney Channel original movie. The teenaged protagonist hilariously and cluelessly makes a mess of all of her relationships through a series of ridiculous and unethical scientific experiments before she finally learns that you can't artificially engineer a relationship. (Maybe, it's schadenfreude that kept me reading? That has to be it, definitely the schadenfreude.) Regardless, if you're looking for fun, smart fluff Chemistry Lessons is for you.
La chimica dell’amore è un romanzo che cresce pian piano. Non è particolarmente drammatico o romantico, è un romanzo di una ragazza che credeva di aver raggiunto un equilibrio nella sua vita sia sentimentale che scolastica, se così vogliamo chiamarla.
Maya è una ragazza che prima di agire pensa, forse anche troppo. Genio della matematica e delle scienze, è cresciuta in una famiglia in cui tutte le esponenti femminili hanno una particolare predisposizione alle scoperte scientifiche e alla ricerca. Pronta per il suo tirocinio, sembra avere il suo futuro a portata di mano, ma tutto cambia quando il suo fidanzato dal liceo la lascia. Whit, il suo ex fidanzato, non è di certo il mio personaggio preferito, anche se rappresenta a pieno alcuni ragazzi di oggi, permette a Maya pur soffrendo di interrogarsi su questioni a cui non aveva mai pensato. Così facendo, chiedendosi se può esistere una formula così che l’amore duri per sempre o cha aiuti le coppie a non lasciarsi, si avvicina molto alla madre. Maya ha bisogno di intraprendere questa strada in apparenza per riprendersi Whit, ma in fondo ci sono ragioni più profonde e toccanti a spingerla verso un esperimento che comporterà diversi imprevisti e rivelazioni sconcertanti.
Ad accompagnarla in questo percorso diversi amici quale Kyle, Brian e Yael. Brian è l’amico artista, quello che nei momenti di difficoltà regala compilation, dispensa consigli e ti invita ad una festa con karaoke solo per farti svagare. È quell’amico che quando scopre quello che sta combinando Maya la invita a riflettere, ma non l’abbandona. Quell’amico che guarda oltre le parole che dici, e che comprende il vero significato di ciò che provi.
Yael è una straniera al MIT. Lei compone con estrema cura un terzetto composto da Kyle e Maya, sempre pronta ad andare a “sniffare” un po’ presso la fabbrica di torrone, resta un po’ sullo sfondo, senza prendere mai una vera e propria posizione.
E poi c’è Kyle, lui è l’amico burlone, quello che manda messaggi solo per farti ridere, quello che abbraccia quando sei giù di morale e che ti ascolta parlare di un altro ragazzo pur di stare con te. Kyle sarà uno dei tester usati per l’esperimento che dovrebbe condurre a creare una pozione capace di alimentare l’amore nei momenti di crisi. Ma vedremo che quest’esperimento sebbene porti dei risultati fa acqua da tutte le parti. Ciò che è vero è che colui che viene maggiormente colpito dalle azioni di Maya e dal suo comportamento è proprio Kyle. Attrazione o non attrazione, di certo ciò che prova per la nostra protagonista non è solo amicizia.
A svolgere questo esperimento scientifico, non è sola, c’è Ava, allieva della madre di Maya. Gli appunti di ricerche mai finite lasciate in eredità alla figlia sono un punto di partenza per ricostruire un legame con colei che non c’è più. Svolgere questa ricerca, in segreto e pericolosa, porterà Maya ad affrontare davvero il lutto e la perdita e non a razionalizzarla soltanto come aveva fatto, senza concedersi di provare davvero tutte quelle emozioni che neanche la scienza può controllare.
La risposta era che l’elemento mancante era mia madre. Una volta nella mia vita c’era una persona che aveva delle vere risposte, la risposta giusta per ogni domanda: a che ora sarebbe stata pronta la cena, se avessi o no il permesso di stare fuori oltre il coprifuoco, come finire i compiti, di qualsiasi materia…ma non esisteva più. Questo avevo capito Non ero tipo da poter negare ciò che era successo alla mia mamma, la malattia si era impadronita del suo corpo, aveva posto fine alla sua vita, tuttavia una parte di me non aveva capito cosa significasse la sua perdita.
Lo stile dall’autrice è semplice e immediato. I luoghi descritti sono pochi, ma variegate sono le personalità inserite, tanto da renderlo un romanzo molto colorato e non tradizionale. La chimica del nostro amore è un romanzo che si legge piacevolmente, offre spunti di riflessione e qualche risata. Non sarà un indimenticabile, ma vale sicuramente la pensa di essere letto.
I recently finished reading Chemistry Lessons, by Meredith Goldstein! Oh look, I finished this book right on time for Valentine's day Note: I received this book as an eARC from NetGalley! This does not affect my opinion on the storyline, plot, writing, or any other point of interest. Thank you for sending it to me! This will be published on June 19th, 2018
This book was not what I expected, in any way! You have Maya, a student working on her internship before joining MIT to study epigenetics. Her mother died and dedicated her laboratory research to her - using a love interest's genes to alter your own genes to increase attraction via pheromones. Maya continues on this work on her own, testing the formula on three test subject - her friend, a stranger, and her ex. This secret project makes her realize the value of personal relationships of all kinds, and tests her in many situations that may happen to anyone.
This book was easily readable - it was smooth, there were no empty chapters, and the scientific ideas were easy understandable and well explained. Easy-reading contemporaries make for really nice summer reads!
I did have a little problem when it comes to the plot of the book, at first. It struck me as odd that the main character saw nothing strange in altering her own chemical signature in order to see if unknowing test subjects would feel any unusual romantic attraction to her. As someone who even finds online dating to be an uncomfortable idea, her lack of realization in the ethics of the experiment surprised me. Not only that, but as a scientist, it was obvious to me that the experiment had many flaws, namely the lack of regularity in the experiments. Her friend Bryan often had the same mindset as I did throughout the book, regarding Maya' s actions and decisions. However, Maya realizes all of this by the end of the book, and makes it up to everyone in various ways. This redeemed the book for me, however did not get rid of the fact that the first 90% of the book seemed odd both ethically and scientifically.
The book was overall a very light read. Where some contemporaries are heavy on mental illness or other topics, this was simply a college girl science-ing the hell out of trying to get back with her ex, and growing on the way. It was a cute, light read, good for anyone who wants to read something that is technically a science fiction but is disguised in a contemporary form. The mix of sub-genres including science, family, theater, love and growing up was a lovely blend that showed that anyone can find themselves in this story.
Finally, I appreciated the realism of the side characters in this book - they were a good representation of the people you may meet in college. Diverse characters, the best friend, the flamboyant guy who doesn't mind who he spends time with at a party, the unrealized crush, the one having a hard time getting over their ex, the ambitious one... it made it easy to find a place in the book as a reader!
First of all, I’d change the title from Chemistry Lessons to Love Potion Number Nine, at least that’s the tune I was humming while reading this G rated love story perfect for young teens. A loving family is torn apart when Mom succumbs to cancer. Dad turns to physical activities to work out his grief, while daughter Maya finds an internship transcribing notes at the MIT lab where her mother did research in Epigenetics. A high school graduate, Maya is looking forward to her Freshman year at Cambridge, but the summer is ruined when her boyfriend Whit, already a film major at Boston University, decides he’s ready to move on to greener pastures. Devastated at this betrayal, she turns to her best friend Bryan, for comfort. Theirs is an unusual relationship, with this talented fellow, immersed in the acting world, a pal to not only Maya, but also Whit, and even her dad. Obviously gay, Bryan is a welcome overnight guest, and her father even feels comfortable when Maya finds herself after hours at his place. Of all the characters, Bryan is the most grounded, with excellent advice and a huge shoulder to cry upon.
When Maya discovers that her mom was working with pheromones to manipulate romantic relationships (make love last), she decides, with the help of her mother’s former graduate student lab assistant, to continue the experiment with the hopes of reawakening the attraction of her former boyfriend. In order to make the study more valid, she needs to test the procedure on two other subjects. The selections have results which are definitely a surprise to Maya, but the reader will certainly have a premonition that this scientific query with a lack of definite controls, does not have a foregone conclusion.
A kind of crazy idea for a research topic, but a fun little way to write a teen romance. It was nice to read a story for once involving loving parents, good friends, and moderately behaved teens where higher educated is expected and welcome. Perhaps the scenario sounds like a fantasy, but there’s just enough tension to keep the silly plot interesting. Great for fans of the Boston area and Willy Wonka (two words - Whiff Walk).
Three stars and a thank you to Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This review also appears on my blog, Gotta Read:
I honestly don’t know how I’m gonna start this review, but here goes nothing. So, I wasn’t expecting to receive this copy (thank you Raincoast for the book), but I was willing to give this book a chance after hearing mostly good things about it. And now I have to say it’s not my favourite book ever, but it’s still a good and (somewhat) predictable contemporary that will still get you in the summer mood. So I would recommend this book for that.
It’s a decent read but one of my biggest problems was the fact that Maya was continuing her mother’s research and legacy for selfish purposes. I think it’s awesome that she was continuing her mother’s work but Maya’s intentions to continue were not in the best interest as she only wanted to get her boyfriend back. Like listen, I get that she’s upset about her boyfriend dumping her, but there was a reason why he broke up with her and a science experiment isn’t the way to get someone back. I also thought Maya was an annoying and selfish person, who seemed to redeem herself by the end. I just found her to be naive at times. Definitely not my favourite character but she was one I could tolerate while reading.
One thing/character I did adore throughout the book was Bryan, who was Maya’s best friend. I just loved their relationship and Bryan was actually quite funny. Also, the relationship between Maya and her dad was one I really loved reading about. The father/daughter relationship felt realistic to me and it didn’t appear forced at all. Other than that, I don’t have a ton of thoughts on the characters as I had no connection towards them because imo, they weren’t developed enough.
Overall, there was nothing particularly interesting about the plot that kept me reading, which is why it took me quite a bit to finish it. But I will say the writing style made this book a lot quicker to read. I would still recommend this though if you want a cutesy, quick summer contemporary with a scientific twist.
Thank you Raincoast Books for sending me a physical ARC in exchange for a honest review.
Goldstein, Meredith Chemistry Lessons, 245 pages. hmh, 2018. $18. Language: G (20 swears); Mature Content: PG13 (dating, kissing, talk of sex); Violence: G.
Things couldn't be better for Maya -she is going to MIT in the fall to follow in her now deceased mother's footsteps, she has a great boyfriend Whit whom she is about to lose her virginity to, and she has a great group of friends both at work and home. But her world is shattered when her boyfriend dumps her for someone else. Now Maya is desperate to get him back. When she finds out her mother was researching attraction and pheromones, she has the idea to use that knowledge to make Whit like her. But first she and Ann (her mother's beloved research assistant) have to test the formula -first on a guy friend and then on a guy that's a stranger. Maya isn't happy about the idea and it embroils her in some drama. Will she ever get Whit back?
I didn't enjoy reading this book and found the main character kind of pathetic. But I think teen readers will relate to the desperation that comes after an unexpected breakup. The plot felt very linear with very few, if any, side plots, so it didn't feel like a truly fleshed out world. I thought some of the conclusions were very forced and didn't feel natural. Honestly even though I spend the entire book with the main characters perspective I didn't feel like I really knew her -most of her life seemed to be tagging along with her best friends well established acting life. The sex talk isn't detailed or graphic, more just about who had sex with whom and about virginity.
One of my coworkers picked up this book at TLA and thought I'd enjoy it. They were right. I didn't go to work until 10 this morning so my early morning was spent in my home library reading this book. I continued it at lunch and then didn't do anything but read when I got home. I've missed the feeling of finishing a book in a single day. It's so nice.
I really enjoyed this book. Goldstein does a great job of creating an interesting plot as well as solid characters. There really wasn't a time I didn't believe the characters existed. She did a great job with creating a book that's diverse and different. It's nice to see a book where the main character is totally in love with math and science. I think a lot of authors write books about their own passions and those usually aren't math and science. This book shows young teens that it's cool to like math and science, and there are others out there that do.
I also really loved the diversity. Maya's best friend is gay, her aunt is bisexual and married to a woman, there's a wonderful diverse set of religions and regions of birth. I adored how much she managed to get into this book. Not once did any of it feel forced either. It was all really natural and felt like real life.
The science portions of this book area really interesting. I enjoyed getting to see Maya's ethical battle with herself. I really enjoyed getting to see the scientific side mixed with the romance and break-up stuff. It was an interesting mix. Goldstein also does a great job with the topics of death and grief.
There's a lot of great things in this small book. I'm really glad I pulled it out of my stack of ARCs from TLA to read.
This isn’t normally the type of book I would pick up in the bookstore, but after receiving it as an ARC at Yallfest I’m glad that I did. It was a cute, quick read that involved a breakup, a girl gifted at science, and her trying to experiment to see if she can win the boy back. The characters were fun and the plot interesting, although slightly predictable. My issues with it came up behind the ethics of the project, which are discussed in the book and addressed, and the ending of the book, which did seem to cut off a big abruptly despite loose ends being wrapped up completely. I guess that’s just a way of me saying I wanted more though. I rate this 3.5 out of 5 stars and I would recommend it. If you’re looking for a cute, fast contemporary read, this is a good one.
Maya Leschinsky is seventeen going on eighteen. Gifted in math and science, she’s an incoming freshman at MIT. She’s also the daughter of a world-renowned geneticist. After Maya suffers her first breakup, she finds out that her mom had been working on a serum to make love last. She’s determined to continue her mom’s research and get her boyfriend back, but at what cost? There’s a lot to like about this book. The whiff walks sound heavenly, like a chocoholics dream, and who wouldn’t be tempted by a love potion? The characters are an appealing bunch, especially the earnest Maya and her BFF Bryan, who show what true friendship is. Maya is a smart girl, but she finds out she still has a lot to learn about life and love. Diverting and lively, this is the perfect summer read.
It was a cute story about finding yourself during that last summer between high school and college. It had science involved with the story but was more of a love story and was based on the relationships the protagonist had with pretty much everyone around her. I read this book in a day and give it a 3/5 only because what she was doing was unethical, and her intentions seemed to be for her and her womanly needs alone, not for the greater good.
started okay and i really liked the family dynamics (and Bryan!!) but the MC and the writing felt so flat & unrealistic.overall a quick easy read,that could have been great but was not quite there.2.5 ⭐️
Picked it up because I needed a quick read and the library was closing and I low-key wish I didn't. The main character was a little stupid for someone who's supposedly smart and the whole experimenting on people without their consent was very unconformable to read. Mid book.