A Novel

Book - 2017
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"A novel about a young Chinese woman whose graduate studies in chemistry go off track and lead her to discover the truths about her goals and desires"--
Three years into her graduate studies at a demanding Boston university, our unnamed narrator finds her one-time love for chemistry is more hypothesis than reality. Tormented by her failed research, there's another, nonscientific question looming: the marriage proposal from a fellow scientist, whose path through academia has been relatively free of obstacles, and with whom she can't make a life before finding success on her own. For the first time, she's confronted with a question she won't find the answer to in a textbook: What do I really want?
Published: New York :, Alfred A. Knopf,, 2017.
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781524731748
Branch Call Number: F WAN
Characteristics: 211 pages ;,21 cm


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Pen/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel

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LPL_IanS Apr 20, 2020

Unfulfilled in her PhD pursuit and unsure of her long term boyfriend’s marriage proposal, our unnamed protagonist finds herself at a serious crossroad. Fortunately for readers, her hyperlogical approach to life’s vicissitudes and social awkwardness make for a very funny and affecting read.

CCPL_Carly Jan 09, 2020

This deeply introspective novel of identity manages to convey intense emotions in spite of its brief narrative style. The author skillfully uses the main character's disconnection and detachment to evoke feeling in the reader. Though it provides an intensely accurate depiction of the pressures of academia, at this novel's center is one woman struggling to find meaning in life.

May 28, 2019

Nonsense statement: "The ancient Chinese were also enthralled with the sky. They attempted to catalog every single star but showed little interest in planets." [Huh?!?! How in creation could the ancient Chinese - - or any other people back then - - see any planets which was impossible until quite recently with the advances in astronomical instrumentation? We've come to expect such silliness form those with Harvard doctorates!]
Some definite potential displayed in this relatively boring book, but declarations like:
"Mao said women hold up half the sky." Evoke such responses as:
Tell me, Weike Wang, the approximate number of women Mao had tortured to death?
[Her attempts at profound writing sound more like a necrophile's fantasy.]
One-dimensional prose, and too many blurbs attesting to the writer's genius raises expectations which cannot be fulfilled. Weike Wang's Little Yellow Book promised much, delivered less . . . .

May 18, 2019


Apr 03, 2019

A slim book with a big impact. I think that’s due to the memorable characters and the way the story is told, with note-like chapters I found similar to diary entries. My sense of time passing was there in the background details. A great reminder of how novels open your mind.

JessicaGma Jul 23, 2018

I don't know if I ultimately enjoyed this book, as I felt like you come in right in the middle - you missed the start but get caught up quickly, and you don't necessarily get a happily ever after, but the character grows and learns, so in that sense, the book is better than some novels. It felt a little like a Bjork song, where it's a bit dissonant and you're along for a short ride. I'd be interested in reading more by the author.

Apr 24, 2018

I devoured this book in two sittings. I was just so absorbed in Wang's prose, and I loved the lack of clarity and the brevity of thought provided by the protagonist. She definitely thought some things that I found I could relate to, easily regarding his discomforts in life. This is very much a character study, so I wouldn't recommend this to plot-driven readers, but would say if you want to slip into someone else's mind for awhile, this is a great book for that.

Dec 31, 2017

Some comments a bit harsh-yes? We are in this confused, insular person. Feeling insignificant results in self-absorbed egotism. Hurting others without an awareness of impacting others. A decent peek into this type of mind. A quick read. Young writer. Let's see some more before we judge.

LPL_PolliK Dec 27, 2017

We meet the narrator when she is reaching a crucial junction in her life: can she love chemistry unconditionally and is that enough to finish her PhD? Can she love and marry a good man who loves HER (mostly) unconditionally? Can she be honest with her parents, Chinese immigrants who have put mountains of conditions on their love for her? The narrator winds us around through vignettes, to the roots of her life, to find out how and when her walls went up and if she is capable of growing anything that looks like love when she can't remember the seed being planted. A good debut and I look forward to reading more from Weike Wang.

Sep 25, 2017

This is one of those books that's written like this. You're in the narrator's head. What they think is what you read. You get an unfiltered glimpse inside their mind. They'll tell you what is going on. It's all rather tedious.

I suppose this is chalked up as a character study of a protagonist trapped between cultures. She's navigating the expectations of her Chinese-emigre parents and the follow-your-bliss freedom of growing up in America. We follow along (indeed, there is very little discovery here) as she experiences uncertainly in life and love, blowing through a year of her life with little focus or direction. A lot like this book.

There are clever turns of phrase, and the scientific asides are a fun diversion. The little snippets of chemistry, physics and math providing the only indication of something unique under the surface. Perhaps I'm just hard to please, but for a book about relationships, both familial, friendly and intimate, Chemistry elicited very little reaction.

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Dec 31, 2017

Debneo thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


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