Usually, a fiction audiobook that is light on plot and heavy on reflective musings would not work very well for me. That describes Chemistry, and somehow it worked. The unnamed narrator (a literary pet-peeve of mine that didn't bother me here) is a chemistry PhD student whose boyfriend has just proposed to her. Instead of excitement, she feels only ambivalence: toward the proposal, her degree program and career path, and the overachieving life she's been pushed to chase by her Chinese parents.
What makes her brand of self-reflection so refreshing is its utter artlessness. There's no fluff here; she is a scientist, and her systematic ways of deconstructing life and the events around her are by turns charming, observant, and arresting. While I sometimes found my mind wandering, as her musings did, the sheer order of them was soothing and a pleasure to listen to.
This post may include affiliate links. That means if you click and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Please see Disclosures for more information.
At first glance, the quirky, overworked narrator of Weike Wang’s debut novel seems to be on the cusp of a perfect life: she is studying for a prestigious PhD in chemistry that will make her Chinese parents proud (or at least satisfied), and her successful, supportive boyfriend has just proposed to her. But instead of feeling hopeful, she is wracked with ambivalence: the long, demanding hours at the lab have created an exquisite pressure cooker, and she doesn’t know how to answer the marriage question. When it all becomes too much and her life plan veers off course, she finds herself on a new path of discoveries about everything she thought she knew. Smart, moving, and always funny, this unique coming-of-age story is certain to evoke a winning reaction.