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Check It Out: Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

This is Kelsey Patterson with the Sioux City Public Library and you’re listening to Check It Out.

Today, I’m recommending Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus.

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, she would be the first to point out that there is no such thing. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality—except for one: Calvin Evans, the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind.

But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Her unusual approach to cooking, (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride” aka vinegar and salt to the average home cook) proves revolutionary. As her following and popularity grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth isn’t just teaching women to cook, she’s daring them to change the status quo.

This debut novel is my favorite book of the year and I’ve gone way overboard recommending it to family, friends, and of course, library patrons. In Elizabeth Zott, the author has written a formidable, unapologetic, and inspiring heroine. You can’t help but like her, and even root for her—despite her scathing brutal honesty. She represents a generation of women frustrated by the lack of gender equality in the workforce. Elizabeth is a reminder of how far we’ve come, but also how far we still have to go.

Entertaining subplots provide readers with nuggets of lighthearted fun and witty dialogue that temper even the most heartbreaking and maddening moments of Elizabeth’s story.

Check out Lessons in Chemistry and other staff favorites from this year at the Sioux City Public Library.

Support for Check It Out on Siouxland Public Media comes from Verde Outdoor Media.

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