Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Elizabeth Zott is a brilliant chemist, but this being the 1950s and 60s, and she a woman, she is not allowed to finish her PhD, she is sexually molested, hired at a fraction of the pay of her male colleagues who are anything but brilliant, and in general no one believes she is actually capable of being a scientist since she’s not a man. That’s just for starters. I am very sympathetic to this plot line since my own brilliant mother, who skipped two grades, was date raped in college by a football player, and when she reported it to her sorority mother, was expelled for immorality. Nothing happened to the football player. So, yes, stories like this do happen. The writing style was decent enough.
Having said that, the author lays it on too thick in the book. It’s 350 pages of the same thing, and it becomes very unbelievable very fast. Zott has a child out of wedlock with a fellow chemist and the child is more intelligent that Einstein and Feynman combined. So is her dog Six Thirty. I went to college in the 60s and plenty of women were successfully getting degrees and working in scientific fields. My daughter is a brilliant chemist and chose to leave academia for marriage and motherhood. She wasn’t fired or discriminated against, and she is happy with her choice. So the book just seemed like a diatribe against all men. I felt castigated for my Y chromosome all the way through. Maybe some women feel that way and will get off on this revenge porn of a sort, but I couldn’t make it past halfway. I skipped ahead from there until the end. The ending was unfortunately too predictable and too unbelievable.