Dr. Hope Jahren of the University of Oslo in Norway is Lab Girl in her autobiography and New York Times 2016 Best Seller, Lab Girl. The novel highlights her powerful friendship with her lab manager, but also sketches out her path through life from childhood to marriage and eventually having a child. Hope’s story clearly extends past the pages of the book, as she builds her experiences as a professor throughout the years and faces challenges such as finding funding, being a woman in science, and struggling with mental health issues. Lab Girl is a must-read novel for environmentalists and those who seek a further understanding of what it’s like to be an active part of the science realm and academia.
In between each chapter are hidden segments that unravel the mystery of trees and the history of plant life on Earth. The author is a paleobiologist, after all. I learned so much because of this captivating novel, and my eagerness to learn what happened next made the pages fly by. I recommend you borrow Lab Girl from your local library if you have the chance. I also hope you are moved to take Hope’s advice at the end of the novel when she encourages each individual reader to plant a tree. Even though a neighborhood may look like it’s full of these tall green and brown bodies that store carbon and give us the air we breathe, the planet used to be covered in many, many more hardwoods than it is today.
“The global number of trees has fallen by approximately 46% since the start of human civilization” – Crowther et al., Nature
Here is an interactive map from Global Forest Watch that shows tree cover loss from 2001 to 2018 in purple, next to tree cover from 2010 in green and tree cover gain in blue. Feel free to click on the link and explore more if you like.
Have you read Lab Girl? What’s your favorite environmental novel? Tell me in the comments! Have a great day, Jess 🙂