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I received this book for free from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. If you've read my other reviews, you'll know that if it's bad, I'll say so, regardless of how I received the book.Chemistry Lessons by Meredith Goldstein
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on June 19, 2018
Genres: Young Adult
Source: Net Galley
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Science answers everything, right? In Chemistry Lessons by Meredith Goldstein, Maya was brought up on science. Her mother was a leading epigenetic researcher. Her aunt is a neuroscientist with a love of botany, and her father is a middle school science teacher. So when Whit, her first love, breaks it off to “see another girl”, she turns to science to get him back.
I don’t think of Chemistry Lessons as a romance, even though the young love is definitely there. There are so many elements to the story that the romance is there as a predictable thread drawing the other storylines together. Maya has recently lost her mom to cancer and is spending the summer between high school and her first year at college interning in the MIT lab her mother built. She’s coping with the loss fairly well, and her father has thrown himself into outdoor activities: hiking, rock climbing, and biking, as well as reading the trashy romance novels his wife read in her final days.
This all factors in Maya’s decision to team with her mom’s former research assistant, the dour Anne, to finish a secret project researching if science can create romantic relationships. It’s love potions for Muggles. Naturally, Maya used herself as the test subject, with the aim of winning Whit back. This had to be scientifically reliable, so a control study was established. I liked the balance of science and narrative. I could follow the science, with the equipment names, etc. It didn’t feel dumbed down, despite the serum having similarities to polyjuice potion. There are flaws in their “study” but the flaws are more from two young scientists trying to re-create the dream of someone they loved and missed, than sloppy writing. The bereavement storyline continues through the amusing process of finding boys to act as control and being a 17-year old. It’s these side stories that make Chemistry Lessons emotional and more enjoyable. Maya’s growth was a little predictable and not unexpected. I love Anne more. She was a little lost with her PhD project stagnating. Because she was standoffish, the others in the lab didn’t really know her, but we see the struggles she had and more depth than just the snobby researcher. Another character, who I haven’t mentioned is Asher. He’s the celebrity YouTuber, but has bigger dreams and more modest than his online persona says. I wouldn’t mind his spin-off story.
Chemistry Lessons is a cute story of love, loss, family, and friendships, with science making a better backdrop than more novels has.
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