Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she’s studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book is a revelatory treatise on plant life—but it is also so much more.
Lab Girl is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren’s stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom’s labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work done “with both the heart and the hands”; and about the inevitable disappointments, but also the triumphs and exhilarating discoveries, of scientific work.
Yet at the core of this book is the story of a relationship Jahren forged with a brilliant, wounded man named Bill, who becomes her lab partner and best friend. Their sometimes rogue adventures in science take them from the Midwest across the United States and back again, over the Atlantic to the ever-light skies of the North Pole and to tropical Hawaii, where she and her lab currently make their home.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Oh my goodness did I enjoy this book!
It was filled with fascinating facts about nature told in parallel with the author’s life story which included both personal and professional achievements.
It was told in a casual, conversation-like manner, touching on topics that a science nerd like myself can be easily entertained by all while alluding to deeper connections to life. The chapter organization was according to plant anatomy which I thought was unique take on a book about life circumstances and personal growth.
The philosophical and literary references gave way to giving a type of relatable persona to plants and trees which lingered in my mind. And the quirky stories about best friends and lab partners, so funny. They definitely added a lot of context and personality to the book and made me think of life’s most treasured moments.