Chemistry is a story of a life and love in limbo told through the rigid but often beautiful lens of science. “It was once believed that heart cells could not regenerate, that once they died they could not be replaced. Now it is known that the heart can renew itself,” author Weike Wang writes. The novel begins with a marriage proposal but leaves the question unanswered. Wang’s unnamed protagonist and her wannabe fiancé, Eric, are both Ph.D. candidates in chemistry in Boston. She is a Chinese immigrant, raised by parents who equated educational achievements with her worth. He is a white American whose personal and professional life has proceeded without a hitch. The proposal sends the protagonist into an identity crisis; she quits school and starts tutoring but spends more time explaining sunsets to her students than preparing them for the GRE. Meanwhile, in therapy, she attempts to understand her ambivalence toward her career, her unaffectionate parents, and Eric.