Released: May 23rd 2017
Chemistry is a thought provoking tale about a woman trying to find herself and resolve who and what she wants to be in life. The novel reads more as a stream of consciousness than as an actual story, but it adds charm and character and gives the reader a better impression of (the unnamed) narrator and her way of thinking. The narrator flits back and forth between humorous moments and heavy thoughts, creating an impression of how her mind works.
The reader is provided with an in depth view of what happens to a child that receives too much pressure from her parents to meet their very high expectations and standards. Along with facts about her life, the narrator includes Chinese idioms and beliefs, as well as (sometimes corny, but still charming) chemistry jokes.
If you’re looking for something quirky and original, this is the book for you. If you’re looking for something structured and with a more formal plot, maybe reconsider reading this one. You definitely have to be in the right mindset to enjoy this book. Either way it is a very quick read, totaling at only 224 pages, with slightly wider than average margins, so it doesn’t require much of an investment time wise.
At first I was pretty put off by the writing format of the book, but as I got farther in it became less and less of a bother. I can’t say I’d call it one of my favorites, but I am pleased I gave it the change regardless.
Chemistry follows a woman who is trying to resolve whether or not she should continue to seek her PhD in, well, chemistry. After a breakdown forces her to take some time away from her schoolwork (and by that I mean the school made her take the break), she’s lost with little to no drive to discover what her life is missing. Thanks to her parents, she’s too terrified to come to terms with the fact that chemistry isn’t for her, knowing that they will not accept this news at all.
Even though I didn’t know the main character’s name, I couldn’t help but feel so awful for her when reading about her childhood experiences. While she insists her parents weren’t bad people they clearly weren’t the best people, never truly considering what her wants or needs were. Instead expectations and demands were heaped on her with little support to meet them. Still, she refuses to even resent her parents, a fact that comes up frequently during her therapy sessions.
I loved her little chemistry jokes, as well as seeing how she interpreted the world. These moments came out the strongest when she was tutoring, so I’m grateful there were many of these described. She sounds like a peculiar instructor – whether that would make her a good or bad tutor I cannot say.
It was really beautiful seeing her come to terms with where she is in life, versus where she wants to be (or more accurately, where her parents want her to be). While we’re not given a solid conclusion, I like the open ended nature to it. It allowed to me to come up with my own ending, suiting what I felt she needed and deserved.