There is something incredibly special about Lab Girl by Hope Jahren so much so that it is my favorite book of this year so far! The entire time I was reading it, I posted links, shared how much I loved it, and even gave it away so that another can enjoy it. That is how much I loved this book!
On the surface, this is a biography of Hope Jahren, one of the most influential plant scientists in the world. In the book, one learns her root (ha!), feels her passion, and will learn a lot about plants and roots. Each chapter alternates with her biography and lessons about plants and trees. This is just the surface of it all though.
What made this book so special was the reader can feel the joy she has throughout the book. Jahren is not only a brilliant scientist, but a fantastic writer who draws the reader into her world. Her personality shines through the page and each story adds a layer to who she is. She loves teaching, going on treks, studying, and creating labs. One can tell that this is her life and she wants to share her life with you- the reader.
If that wasn't enough, there is also the relationship she has with Bill, her lifelong lab partner. From their first meeting until the epilogue, Bill is such an important part of her life and her love for Bill comes shining through. This isn't a romantic love though, it is a friendship bordering on brother/sister/life partner type of love. Their interactions are also so much fun to read. This is the story of a partnership that endures trials, tribulations, death (neither of them), and a whole bunch of life. Bill has a way of looking at life that just grounds Jahren, while she pushes him into the world. It is their relationship that drives the reader to keep wanting to read. It is as much of a buddy novel as it is a biography.
On top of that there is the real story of what it is like to be a university lab technician in the US. Not just any lab tech, but one of the best. There is a real commentary about how the US keeps underfunding the sciences, but the scientists keep moving forward discovering new things on a shoestring budget. In almost all of her lab creations, she has to dig through university trash to create a working lab due to the fact that plant research is on the bottom of the totem poll when it comes to funding. Bill, throughout most of the book, is homeless and living in his van, but is so driven by Jahren's vision and theories that he gives up his life for her and comfort.
She tells all of these stories with the stories of plants and trees. She uses her scientific knowledge to show that plants are no different than humans and need to be cared for just as much as relationships. These plant fact chapters are just as important as her biography, or her commentary, or her relationships. We are in relationship to plants as much as we are in relationship to humans. The book never gets preachy though, but teaches so many important lessons.
I picked this one up on a whim after it had received so many positive reviews. I am so glad I did. This one is my favorite so far! Don't pass on this one. Solid 5 stars!
Here is the Amazon link- Lab Girl by Hope Jahren