In “Lab Girl”, author and scientist Hope Jahren mixes science and biography to tell a fascinating story about her life, her work and the very special relationship she has with her lab partner, Bill.
Dr. Jahren’s personal anecdotes and experiences as a woman in scientific academia are interesting in and of themselves. By weaving in related, and understandable, examples of plant science, she creates a truly unique piece of nonfiction.
The book begins with a story of the author’s childhood. It sets the stage by giving her father, a science professor, credit for her career choice and her family blame for her insecurities about being loveable and accepted. But most of “Lab Girl” is about Dr. Jahren’s life as an academic scientist, responsible for teaching college students, as well as building labs and conducting meaningful research. It’s not a glamorous lifestyle, but it seems like a true calling for Jahren and her lab partner, Bill. These two are kindred spirits and the fact that two such quirky people found each other as well as a profession that so thoroughly suits them is nearly miraculous. It’s one of my favorite things about her story.
Jahren is candid about very personal topics, like family dynamics, marriage and even mental illness. She’s a very complex person with intense drive that seems to be fueled by insecurities as well as something that’s just innately hardwired within her. She’s also a very good writer. With “Lab Girl”, she’s created a very engaging and even educational book. Not only does she skillfully tell her own story, but she’s also able to make trees interesting. That takes talent. It’s a very good book!
Have you read “Lab Girl”? What did you think?