Lessons in Chemistry
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus is a book that had me eating my words. I am a major book cover judger and there was something about this cover that turned me off. If it had not been for all the rave reviews from trusted book readers, I honestly never would have picked it up. But I am so glad I did, because this book might be my favorite book of 2023 (granted, it is still only January.) Do not let this cutesy cover fool you, this story has depth, heart, and complexity that blew me away.
Elizabeth Zott is a chemist, and proud of it. She has worked hard to get where she is today, no thanks to the many men who tried to hold her down along the way. It is the early 1960's and works with an all-male team at Hastings Research Institute. She meets fellow chemist, Calvin Evans, and the only word that seems fitting for their relationship is: chemistry. Years later, Elizabeth finds her world quickly changed as she is a single mother to her daughter, while also a reluctant star of America's most beloved cooking show, Supper at Six. Elizabeth takes a chemist's approach to cooking and women homemakers across the country are entranced and empowered, as Elizabeth gives them not only the tools to cook their families a nutritious meal, but also the strength to challenge the role women are forced to play.
I have officially added Elizabeth Zott to my list of all-time favorite literary characters. She has got to be one of the best female protagonists I have come across. Unintentionally funny and absolutely literal, Elizabeth kept me entertained as her story unraveled. But for as many times as I chuckled to myself, I found myself choked up by some of the sadder events in Elizabeth's life.
I am a huge fan of feminist reads and I would rank Lessons in Chemistry up there when it comes to feminist/women's fiction. Elizabeth questions the status quo and defies the 1960's adage of "it's a man's world." She truly makes a mark for herself, but hits so many bumps along the way. Every time some slimy guy tried to bring her down, I wanted to throw the book, but Elizabeth perseveres. I loved it and couldn't get enough. Witty, smart, and laugh out loud funny, I will recommend Lessons in Chemistry for years to come.
I am also a huge fan of the Barnes & Noble Exclusive Edition I picked up. It's absolutely gorgeous with its blue-edged pages and inner cover with the periodic table. I'm obsessed.
"On the other hand, wasn't that the very definition of life? Constant adaptations brought about by a series of never-ending mistakes? Yes, and she should know."
"And as humans, we’re by-products of our upbringings, victims of our lackluster educational systems, and choosers of our behaviors. In short, the reduction of women to something less than men, and the elevation of men to something more than women, is not biological: it’s cultural. And it starts with two words: pink and blue. Everything skyrockets out of control from there.”
"Chemistry is change."