Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (400 pages)

A Review Of The Novel And Book Club Event
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Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus (400 pages)

A Woman’s Determination To Beat The Patriarchy Through Lessons in Chemistry

Highly intelligent and academically driven Elizabeth Zott is set to accomplish her goals. She wants to see her research in chemistry through to the end, make her way up the academic ladder, and publish her work. However, her male counterparts at Hastings Research Institute seem to have other ideas of what she is capable of. She is not respected for her work, and, despite their awareness of her accomplishments, the men look down on her.  That is, all the men think so except for one: socially awkward yet incredibly brilliant fellow scientist Calvin Evans. When their paths cross, he cannot help but fall in love with her brilliant mind. The chemistry between them is unlike any other, but like most science experiments, the outcome of their love is unpredictable. A few years after their encounter, Elizabeth finds herself as a single mother and the host of a cooking show. Despite all the hurdles that her patriarchal society has set in her path, Elizabeth is determined to break the status quo even if it means risking everything she’s ever worked for. 

An Excellent Novel and Book Club Discussion

I could not predict the events of the story, and was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Protagonist Elizabeth Zott can be described as odd, unrelatable, and quirky, but her stance on equality and her perseverance were qualities I admired. I cannot remember the last time I came across a character that was completely true to herself, which was one of the main reasons I was so drawn to her. Credit goes to author Bonnie Garmut for not only perfecting the protagonist and all the supporting characters, but totally nailing the dialogue as well. This includes the character and dialogue of a furry friend with the best name –you’ll need to read the book to find out!

I had the absolute pleasure of attending one of BooknBrunch’s very own book club events where Lessons In Chemistry was discussed. I did not think that I could love this book any more than I did, but the discussion we had during the event changed that. We dove into thought-provoking discussions that allowed me to view the characters’ motivations and choices from different perspectives. It was interesting to hear how each of us learned something different despite having read the exact same book. This novel was an excellent choice for a discussion, since there were many elements to dissect. What was particularly interesting for me was how we were able to draw parallels from our world today to Elizabeth’s, which was set in the 1960’s. It was eye-opening to realise how far we’ve come – and how much still needs to change. Our discussion led to us talking about fate and how everything that happened in the lives of the characters was “meant to be.” While we didn’t necessarily agree on the exact definition of fate, it was insightful to hear various points of views.

The Bottom Line: 5/5 Brookie Stars 

Reading Lessons in Chemistry was like a breath of fresh air and I give it a solid 5 stars. Learning that this was Garmut’s debut novel was such a surprise as she did a wonderful job at telling the story and bringing her characters to life. If you enjoyed novels such as Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple or The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, I think you’ll like this one too.

The discussion made me appreciate this novel so much more. It was thought-provoking, insightful, and very informative. I cannot believe it was my first BooknBrunch book discussion event, but it will certainly not be my last. I highly recommend checking out the upcoming events on BooknBrunch’s website! 

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Maiya Alismaili is a 34 year old bookacholic who currently resides in Ottawa. With a background in Human Resources and Psychology, you will often find her people watching. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book, she will likely be exploring the town for new bookstores, rewatching Gilmore Girls, or cleaning to 80s music.

Favorite Book: A Fine Balance By Rohinton Mistry
Favorite Brunch Spot: Cafe Cristal


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