Book Club Reflections
Our November book club pick by Beth was Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus.
Lauren was first to speak up at book club and said, “This is a quintessential Beth book selection. It has quirky characters. It’s feminist. It has science in it. There’s a bit of romance but also very serious topics (not that romance isn’t serious!).”
From our Book Banter bookmark, we spent the most time with the questions “Which characters did you love to hate? Hate to love?” & “How do the writer’s moves enhance or hinder the story?”
With this book both questions spoke to the characters of the story. We talked about how each character was a bit “extra” & we loved (or loved to hate) them all.
Of course, we were enamoured with Elizabeth Zott. She was a compelling, strong, quirky & an entirely unique character.
“She’d felt this way her entire life. She’d been defined not by what she did, but by what others had done. In the past she was either the offspring of an arsonist, the daughter of a serial wife, the sister of a hanged homosexual, or the graduate student of a renowned lecher. Now she was the girlfriend of a famous chemist. But she was never just Elizabeth Zott.”
The character Six-Thirty, however, stole our hearts. We loved that Bonnie Garmus took a risk with the dog’s character especially given this is her debut novel.
We all loved this book. What we would have appreciated is, although there were lots of layers to the story, they were all ‘right there’. We do love to connect the dots of hidden layers, uncovering motifs, & sharing insights that might not be obvious.
However, after making that statement this quote seems particularly apropos…
“She’d just finished telling Six-Thirty that fiction was problematic. People were always insisting they knew what it meant, even if the writer hadn’t meant that at all, and even if what they thought it meant had no actual meaning.”
This book is unputdownable! We loved how Bonnie Garmus wove so many complex issues throughout this debut novel that was such a joy to read. We appreciated the perspective of living in the 1960’s as a woman of science. Lessons in Chemistry is a quirky, smart, thought-provoking novel that should be on everyone’s to-be-read pile!
“Whenever you feel afraid, just remember. Courage is the root of change - and change is what we're chemically designed to do. So when you wake up tomorrow, make this pledge. No more holding yourself back. No more subscribing to others' opinions of what you can and cannot achieve. And no more allowing anyone to pigeonhole you into useless categories of sex, race, economic status, and religion. Do not allow your talents to lie dormant, ladies. Design your own future. When you go home today, ask yourself what YOU will change. And then get started.”
“Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun."