Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Hidden Figures by: Margot Lee Shetterly

Genre: Non-Fiction, History, Science
Published: December 6, 2016 by: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: 359
Rating: 3/5 stars

Ever wondered who the black woman who got John Glenn to the moon was? Before the US was close to the Space Race, Langley Research Center recruited hundreds of brilliant women, known as "human computers" to complete calculations to help get man into space. Amongst these women were an exceptional group of African-Americans, known as "the west computers." Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine Johnson, and Mary Jackson all made significant advancements in such a vital part of history, and yet many did not know they existed. Until now.

I don't reach much non-fiction. However when I do, it's because I am super interested in a topic and have researched it and thought about it before. In Hidden Figures' case, I had watched the movie during awards season and absolutely loved it. So when I had the opportunity to study this book for my English final assignment, I took the chance. Now I have to be honest, the movie was a lot more interesting to me than the book, but I still think that this is an important read.

Props to Margot Lee Shetterly for recognizing that these stories had to be told. Stories of African-American women overcoming racism, sexism, and being knocked down, all to work for one of the most prestigious organizations in the world: NASA. I knew of John Glenn, I knew of Neil Armstrong, but I had no idea who Katherine Johnson was before Hidden Figures. And even a lot of Americans didn't know either. I think this is a book that all history/science bluffs should read.

The book had some witty contexts, some powerful dialogues, and a ton of information, but I think the info-dump is what made this a bit, and I use this word lightly, boring. Now don't get me wrong, the whole story of the figures wasn't boring, but there was a ton of science information in this that just went right over my head. The movie focused more on the personal lives of the figures and work life, but the book focused more on what they did on the job. And this could be very interesting to a science nerd, but for me, I couldn't understand any of it.

For me to really love a non-fiction book, it needs to write about stuff I'm thoroughly interested in, and science unfortunately is not one of them. I thought it would be a lot more historical and more focused on the racism going on at the time, and it did to an extent, but I couldn't follow all the way through. But I still think that this was an extremely important read and one I was happy to pick up.

Have you read Hidden Figures? What did you think?

Emily @ Paperback Princess


  1. OMG I loved that film! It's so important that the stories and achievements of women of colour in science - of women and of people of colour in science in general - are acknowledged and told.

    1. YES! I so wish the movie was acknowledged more at the awards shows.

  2. I've not read the book or seen the movie! I'm not a very non-fiction reader so I think I'll just watch the movie! I do think the entire story is important and wonderful! <3 The story is so empowering for women and PoC <33

    1. Please do!! It sooo awesome and revived such good reviews!