Chemistry

There’s a narrative out there that young people these days aren’t growing up as fast as young people used to grow up. Even some of our politicians are emploring young kids to shake off the coddling and not spend their twenties like they’re still teenagers. I won’t go into all the ways in which this is a flawed concept, but one thing I’ve considered is that young people now get a lot more education than young people used to. The title character of this novel has spent a lot of time in these environments. Combined with her family relationships, one can, with some empathy, understand why she’s having such a hard time growing up, committing to the life that she has in front of her.

My own background in graduate school and lots of friend still in some phase of the graduate education track gave me a particular fondness for this character. I know and have known many men and women like her. And I find her story both relatable and interesting to consider in this meandering, memoir-esque, free form style. Like An Unnecessary Woman, I enjoyed spending a few hours in the head of a woman I would’ve otherwise never gotten to know.

There is also something particularly…scientific…about Weike Wang’s writing style. Upon finishing the novel and learning that she was a science grad student before getting her MFA and becoming a writer, this made more sense to me. Her voice is well-suited for this character but I wonder how she’ll be able to grow and adapt her writing style for different types of characters.