I finished Lab Girl, Hope Jahren’s award winning memoir, on New Year’s Eve. I love this book and proclaim it my favorite read of 2018! Dr. Jahren is a scientist first, but a brilliant humorist as well. It is a story of love. Love for science, love for plants, love for Bill, and eventually, love for herself. The metaphoric style seamlessly weaves the narration from botany to life lessons. “Good neighborhoods, rich with water, thick soil and-most important- full sunlight, give rise to trees that reach their maximum potential. In contrast, trees in bad neighborhoods never achieve half of that height, never have much of a teenage growth spurt, but focus instead on just holding on, growing at less than half the rate of the more fortunate.”
My only criticism is not really even a criticism. As a primary care physician, I’ve had multiple occasions to witness true mania. Dr. Jahren does a very good job of describing the approach to her manic episode as her thoughts start to speed and race and jumble. But, she uses rational words to describe an irrational state of being. I guess you have to write about episodic mental illness in rational dialogue or you’d lose a lot of readers. Interestingly, a trigger for a manic episode can be lack of sleep and as a scientist; Dr. Jahren pushes that envelope routinely. You could also feel the darkness around her as she describes her pregnancy psychosis.
Her quest for knowledge knows no bounds. Her brain is brilliant. Her loyalty to, and description of, true friendship is heartbreakingly honest. I’m sure she is a weirdo because most research scientists are; therefore I probably wouldn’t want to have coffee with her. But I’d love to spend a day in her brain to know the feeling of being so astoundingly smart and insatiably hungry for knowledge. I’m eagerly awaiting your next book Dr. Jahren and I can’t wait to see who plays you and Bill in the movie.