Anna: Welcome to my April memoir review! This month my memoir of choice was Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. I thought this called for feet and green tea.
I’m really enjoying the challenge I’ve seemed to have given myself in 2019 of reading a memoir a month! I’m finding memoirs particularly enjoyable to listen to on audiobook, because I can easily listen to them at work. I listened to Lab Girl this way!
I found Hope’s life fascinating. Her love of science is so beautifully described—she thinks and writes so differently than I’m used too. There are breathtaking descriptions of trees and plants, which I found peaceful (although sometimes they made me a little sleepy!) I also liked how Jahren framed the narrative events of her life around chapters of release plant studies. My reading taste however, craves narrative, and I think what I enjoyed most were the scenes of Hope and Bill’s quirky friendship and the descriptions of her Scandinavian family.
Something that bothered me was Jahren’s use of dialogue tags that weren’t “said.” “Said” is, in my opinion, the only necessary dialogue tag 90 percent of the time, and I find other tags endlessly distracting, and this was especially the case in this book. All the “replies” “answered” “sighed” etc. in this really stuck out to me! This is quite the pet peeve, I know, but this is something I couldn’t avoid noticing on audio.
As a person who studied English and works in book publishing, the value of scientific research is something I take for granted. I read memoirs about writers all the time, something I never really realized until this book. Lab Girl reminded me of the importance of science in our world. Something Jahren repeatedly talks about is the fact that scientists don’t receive enough funding to carry out expensive and necessary research. This is something I knew but honestly never think about. Lab Girl helped me realize the importance of scientific funding and has even made me look at trees differently.
VERDICT: 3.5/5 trees