The best books are often sent to you, as someone you know has read it and feels that you simply must read it too. Before you start, you suspect this will be good and may teach you a thing or two!
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus was one of those books. I’ll admit that a novel about chemistry set in 1960s America didn’t initially sound like something I would enjoy. But it is so much more than a book about science. It’s about the chemistry of life itself, about the important things, about societal expectations, about passions and purpose. It’s a compelling and inspiring story.
Elizabeth, the determined and independent main character faces many challenges that will resonate with the reader. Discrimination and sexism are rife both in her working life and personal life and we find ourselves rooting for her. There is a lot of heart in these pages, the characters are wonderfully observed with insightful observations about human nature.
Through the characters’ vulnerabilities and challenges, we understand that this isn’t a book about one specific thing or another, it’s more about the tapestry and interwoven strands of life. Yes, there is science (I learnt a thing or two!) but there is also self-discovery, the pursuit of truth and a lot of warmth and love.
If I had to describe what it is about in one sentence, I’d say it’s about the resilience of the human spirit with a dash of science thrown in!
There are authentic and endearing characters that you come to care about. It’s an entertaining and smart read that questions society in subjects that still resonate with us today. I laughed at moments, I had a tear in my eye at others, and occasionally I felt a bit cross! It makes you think…and feel.
The book highlights the importance of finding balance and discovering what is important (to you) in life and going for it!
Highly recommended for an entertaining and thoughtful read that can make us think about our own lives and how we lead them. At huunuu we like to think that each small thing we do is important and is all part and parcel of what makes us, us. We are all living our legacy and this novel reminded me to be authentically me.
I knew it would be a good book!
Book club questions
- What were your initial impressions of Elizabeth Zott as a protagonist? Did your opinion of her change as the story progressed?
- Did any one character especially resonate with you? And why?
- Explore the themes of perseverance and resilience in the novel. What obstacles does Elizabeth encounter, and how does she overcome them?
- Reflect on the significance of the title, ‘Lessons in Chemistry.’ How does it reflect the story and what does it mean to you?
- What do you think the novel teaches us about life, identity, and the pursuit of our passions?