I was terrible in chemistry lab.

Theory, I had no problem with. I could explain biochemical reactions and solve physical chemistry problems (with the help of a lot of paper, pencils, and calculator). When it came to the lab, however, I was a bull in a china shop.

Fires. Broken glassware. Barely passing grades on lab reports. That was me.

Thankfully, I abandoned any dreams of being a hands-on scientist early in my college career. But it’s something I look back on wistfully. I wish I was good at it, in the Palepu tradition.

Reading Chemistry brought up so many memories of college that I had forgotten. I found myself empathizing fully with the protagonist. She’s a woman who pushed back on the expectations set out for her because of her culture, her chosen course of study, and even her loved ones.

She is refreshingly honest and real – qualities that I fail to see in so many woman characters on the screen. Her frankness – brutal, at times – and zero f&#ks endeared me to her in a way I never have with a protagonist.

Chemistry‘s prose is beautiful, which is a jarring contrast to the gruff protagonist, the exasperated boyfriend, the demanding parents, and the loyal friend.

This was one of my favorite books I’ve read this year – and maybe ever. I can’t wait to read what Weike Wang will write next.