Friday, January 13, 2017

REVIEW: Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Lab Girl 
Author: Hope Jahren
Published by: Knopf/PenguinRandomHouse
Release date: April 5, 2016
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Who knew science, plants, and scientists could be so interesting?
"Each beginning is the end of a waiting. We are each given exactly one chance to be. Each of us is both impossible and inevitable. Every replete tree was first a seed that waited" ( 31).

This was an amazing memoir. Jahren's life as a scientist and her descriptions of plants are entrancing. The beautiful structure of this book unfolds with chapters about different plants or plant processes interspersed with chapters about her life--and, of course, the connection between the two seemingly disparate topics always becomes clear.

The first section of her memoir is called "Roots and Leaves" and that lovely quote above comes from a short two-page chapter where I learned how seeds work, followed by a chapter about her beginnings as a scientist. Here's another example of Jahren's writing style: "Working in the hospital teaches you that there are only two kinds of people in the world: the sick and the not sick. If you are not sick, shut up and help. Twenty-five years later, I still cannot reject this as an inaccurate worldview" (44). Her writing is both poetic and pragmatic, and certain lines or paragraphs fill my ears with delightful sounds or ring a bell in my head. Trust me, I have more notes tabbed in this book than you'd care to read! Or you could just read the whole book and enjoy it as much as I did.

I leave you with one final insightful line that delighted me: "Love and learning are similar in that they can never be wasted" (174). I tabbed it with a note called "good thinking line," enjoy!
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