I heard so many great things about Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. I figured I would get around to it one of these days. Then one of the kids in my history class asked if he could do his second half project on this book. He’d seen the movie and wanted to know more. Well sure, why not.
So I ordered it from Amazon. It came and I started reading because I won’t assign my kids anything I haven’t read myself.
I like non fiction. Let’s get that right out there. Well researched non fiction is in fact my preferred genre of reading. The non fiction nature of this book was a not a problem for me.
I am a historian by training. I research tirelessly. So the setting of the novel was not unfamiliar to me.
Where I ran into issue, was the first 2/3rds of the book. Extremely short on actual details of the “incredible contributions” they made. And extremely long on preaching about racism in the south.
I get it, the south was heinously racist. If your book is in fact about racism in the south, bill it that way. Don’t pay lip service to the “incredible things they accomplished” and go on at infinitum and often repetitively, entire paragraphs repeated almost verbatim, about racism.
If your book is about the amazing things these women accomplished, show the goods. Show what they did at least in equal proportion to the amount of time you spend talking about what they over came to do the amazing.
The last third of the book she gets it right. The odds and accomplishments are both showcased in detail and in almost balance. Which made both for a compelling and emotional read.
I haven’t seen the movie. I might. I am undecided. While I applaud the real accomplishments of the women, I wish they had had a better biographer.