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  • Writer's pictureJulie Mackin

Add a Pinch of Sodium Chloride

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

2023 Frenzied Bibliophile Challenge Category: Recommended Book

Ratings: ⅘

Will you like this book? This book has:

  • Women in the 1960s fighting to be heard

  • Little orphan Annie vibes

  • The smartest dog in the world

  • A chosen family

This review contains some vague spoilers.

A number of people recommended this book to me, so it seemed like a good one to check out. I wasn’t initially drawn to the premise but once I started reading, the book pulled me right in. It is the story of Elizabeth Zott, who is working as a chemist in a laboratory in California in the late 1950s and early 1960s. While there, she meets and falls in love with Calvin Evans, another chemist, but since he is a he, things are a bit better for him. Plus he is pretty famous in the chemistry circles and is even up for a Nobel prize. Elizabeth and Calvin are both singularly focused; at the time we meet them, they are focused on chemistry but soon their world will be each other in their little bungalow with their dog, Six Thirty.

But it isn’t meant to last and eventually Elizabeth finds herself a single mother with limited employment prospects. Through a series of events, she finds herself the host of a cooking show and through this cooking show, she begins to show the women who tune in that there is a larger world out there. And that being a housewife is a lot of work and that these women deserve respect. Elizabeth has been fighting the patriarchy for a long time, and now she is showing other women how to do it as well. Elizabeth is what we all wish we could be, someone who says what they think, who demands respect, even if she doesn’t get it, and who says the uncomfortable truths that other people are too scared to say.

Lessons in Chemistry made me mad and then happy then very sad then sort of happy again. It was a roller coaster ride. In the end, I was happy again but I felt the ending, like the ending to The Keeper of Lost Things, was almost too perfect. Everything was wrapped up in a neat little bow and so many problems were just solved. I guess that is how life can be sometimes, but for this book and these characters, it felt a little pat. Maybe I just wanted more time with all of them, to see how they grew and where they went.

A great read and I am very thankful to everyone that recommended it to me. I will pass it right along.

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