Top Tier (4 to 5 stars)

Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus

Outstandingly incredible writing! Quirky in the very best way! Unputdownable! I absolutely loved this sometimes hilarious, often tragic story!

Lessons in Chemistry portrays almost every woman’s plight on this earth – rolled into the harrowing life experiences of one indomitable female scientist: you could not keep Elizabeth Zott down! I would line up to buy an action figure of Elizabeth Zott – I fell so in love with this badass woman!

In an interview at the end of the audiobook – what an amazing bonus that was! – the author points out that things have indeed changed for the better for us, but that women are still far from equal in this still predominantly “man’s world.”

All of us have experienced at least a fraction of the debasing attitudes and actions that have kept women pigeon-holed into specific roles, as if the ability to nurture and bring forth life in our own bodies makes us lesser than the male species. I don’t want to get on a soapbox, but I was born a feminist. I had three brothers and we debated with endless ferocity about a woman’s inherent right to equality, despite our “physical attributes” – or lack thereof, as my brothers (who have since learned the error of their ways!) were so ready to point out.

The fear of failure and/or the belief that we “aren’t smart enough” keeps all kinds of talented people stuck in unfulfilling roles/jobs/relationships. We fear the unknown and find stagnating comfort in following a more traditional path. Elizabeth’s awful childhood did not defeat her: instead, as she points out later in the novel, we have to take the bad things that happen to us in this life and use the lessons learned to make us stronger. Like I said before, Elizabeth was a true Badass!

I loved the dog, 6:30, who is such a brilliant character in this magical tale. In fact, the entire cast of characters – Calvin Evans, Mad, Harriet, and Walter, to name just a few – helped propel the action and kept you riveted to each page. I became totally invested in Elizabeth and Mad’s trials and tribulations. What an utterly fascinating story this was!


I am so very proud of and grateful to Bonnie Garmus for creating these incredible characters, and reminding us that we owe the progress women have made to people like Elizabeth Zott’s characters, whose suffering and determination have paved the way for us.

I am giving this a hundred stars, because every part of this novel took my breath away, it felt so true and – despite its quirkiness – real, and in a way has told, at least in part, every woman’s story!

My thanks to the author, Bonnie Garmus, the publisher, Doubleday Books, and NetGalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. (My apologies for the late posting, but I suspect that I was meant to read and listen to the audio of this book at this particular time, when I finally had the luxury of time and a less fraught mind – I blame you for the latter, COVID! – to thoroughly enjoy every bit of it!)

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