Three years into her graduate studies at a demanding Boston university, the unnamed narrator of this nimbly wry, concise debut finds her one-time love for chemistry is more hypothesis than reality. She's tormented by her failed research--and reminded of her delays by her peers, her advisor, and most of all by her Chinese parents, who have always expected nothing short of excellence from her throughout her life. But there's another, nonscientific question looming: the marriage proposal from her devoted boyfriend, a fellow scientist, whose path through academia has been relatively free of obstacles, and with whom she can't make a life before finding success on her own.

Eventually, the pressure mounts so high that she must leave everything she thought she knew about her future, and herself, behind. And for the first time, she's confronted with a question she won't find the answer to in a textbook: What do I really want? Over the next two years, this winningly flawed, disarmingly insightful heroine learns the formulas and equations for a different kind of chemistry--one in which the reactions can't be quantified, measured, and analyzed; one that can be studied only in the mysterious language of the heart. Taking us deep inside her scattered, searching mind, here is a brilliant new literary voice that astutely juxtaposes the elegance of science, the anxieties of finding a place in the world, and the sacrifices made for love and family.

Chemistry Details

Book TitleChemistry
Book Author
FormatKindle Edition
by 488 users

Chemistry Reviews

  • Brad
    Jun 12, 2017


    Chemistry by Weike Wang is one of the choices for BOTM for June. Another book that is so different from my regular reads. "A PhD chemistry student is at Harvard and has a bit of a breakdown. (Some glass beakers are involved) Afterwards she questions everything - her boyfriend, her stri...

  • Nicole Beaudry
    Jun 11, 2017

    Nicole Beaudry

    Devoured in a day, in a sitting, Wang's Chemistry is an aching, tender, precious unravelling of the way in which our parents mark us, of how we can love them despite even the deepest, most painful marks, and how these marks impact relationships with ourselves and others even as we try ...

  • Katie Andrus Pulsipher
    Jun 10, 2017

    Katie Andrus Pulsipher

    I would give this a 3.5 if I could. I loved the unique voice, and as a recently graduated chemistry PhD student, there were a lot of passages that made me go YES THAT'S GRAD SCHOOL EXACTLY. I loved all of those. I wish there had been more of that and less of the pretty monstrous parent...

  • Ali Edwards
    Jun 10, 2017

    Ali Edwards

    I really enjoyed the totally different writing style - basically it's written in snippets of thoughts/memories/etc. Being introduced to different writing styles is definitely one of the things I'm loving from reading so many books right now. I really liked the micro-story approach (a l...

  • Sydney Young
    Jun 10, 2017

    Sydney Young

    Perfect book for summer-full of just the right contrasts. Sweet but sour. Both light and heavy at the same time. About nothing, about everything. About the Chinese, about Americans. Children and Parents, lovers and fighters. The yin and the yang, the push and the pull. Chemistry. Tryin...

  • Samantha
    Jun 9, 2017


    I loved every word of this book, endlessly. ...

  • Renee
    Jun 9, 2017


    A very good debut coming-of-age novel about a young female scientist who must recalibrate her life when her academic career goes of becoming a PhD go off track.Almost every page is filled with light hearted scientific anecdote and casually brilliant ruminations of puns, words, and gene...

  • Kate Olson
    Jun 8, 2017

    Kate Olson

    Unique and stop-and-reread hilarious, Chemistry reminded me of my personal definition of literary fiction ~ "fiction in which the style of writing and social implications add just as much to the experience as does the story itself". By that definition, Chemistry is textbook literary fi...

  • Lorri Steinbacher
    Jun 8, 2017

    Lorri Steinbacher

    Interesting take on twenty-something ennui. You never really like the protagonist, but you also don't want to stab yourself repeatedly in the eye with a pointy stick as you watch her flail despite having advantages not afforded some others. Her depression has merit, makes sense. The no...

  • Subashini
    Jun 7, 2017


    I have to say that part of my love for this book involved relating to quite a bit of the narrator's experiences. Her voice is deadpan and self-deprecatory, but unlike a lot of hyper-aware modern fiction it's not an ironic pose to appear clever. It's just that emotional distance has bec...