Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Rate: 5/5

Medium: Audiobook

Overview (No Spoilers):

Elizabeth Zott is strong, intelligent, and a force to be reckoned with. She is a brilliant scientist in a time period where females are expected to be housewives. She faces relentless sexism and even sexual assault all while trying to do her job. As a fellow scientist and woman, what Zott went through is infuriating and while I acknowledge that she is fictional, I’m positive that what she experienced is not far from what many other, very real, women endured in the 1960s. 

I thoroughly enjoyed how Garmus chose to write Zott. Despite making Zott uncompromising and dry, Garmus injected her interactions with surprising humor. I can’t imagine how Garmus flawlessly accomplishes this feat and maintains levity despite how heavy much of the material is throughout Lessons in Chemistry

While Zott is the obvious star in Lessons in Chemistry, there are a smattering of other detailed characters from the nosey, godsend of a neighbor, Harriet Sloan, to the brilliant but damaged Calvin Evans, and the ever malicious Donattiott. Garmus effortlessly juggles an extensive supporting cast of vibrant personalities who span the spectrum of villains to surprise blessings. Each character, regardless of their role, has clear motivations and personalities that serve to enrich the story as a whole and draw the reader into this male dominated world. 

The story itself is full of twists and turns that manage to shock, despite ample foreshadowing leading up to anticipated and dreaded events. The hints that seem clear and obvious, delightfully have an alternative meaning, keeping the reader on their toes. 

Overall, Lessons in Chemistry provokes a full spectrum of emotions that despite the heavy material will leave the reader inspired and motivated. 

Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound)

  • I loved everything about Elizabeth’s cooking show, Super at Six.  From her message to the women at home to her uncompromising attitude toward how she was going to be represented and the set. Walter Pine’s 
  • I don’t know if I could have ever returned to Hastings Research Institute if I were Zott. So many of the staff treated her terribly. 
  • I usually love when emotions imbued by books carry forward into real life. That said, I think I was angry for a week about Donattiott stealing Zott’s work.
  • The dog Six Thirty was another great addition. What will Zott do when Six Thirty eventually passes. 
  • Mysterious donor was so interesting and I couldn’t wait to see how that played out. The twist was definitely not what I expected. I wish Calvin would have known. That bishop was seriously so evil. 
  • For a book about science, the coincidences were a bit much by the end, such as Calvin’s pen pal Wakely accidently meeting Mad. 


  1. I’ve been wondering whether to read this book – it has been so heavily publicised and I’ve felt let down by a couple of ‘must-reads’ recently. Your review has given me some food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

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