Thursday, June 15, 2017

Library Of A TwentySomethings World: Review of Hidden Figures

Mini Bio:

Name: Kristen
Blog: Library of a TwentySomething
Hey everyone! I'm Kristen, from Library of a TwentySomething and I am happy to be working alongside The Slytherin Book Lady as a guest blogger! I am a TwentySomething (ofcourse!) Canadian girl from a well known Southern Ontario city, Niagara Falls. As a reader I tend to drift a bit more to the Historical Fiction (World War II, mostly) as a genre but generally I would consider myself a fairly rounded reader and will pick up any book that appears to be interesting. I have a dog, Dakota and a cat, Noah and a boyfriend, Brad although the best reading (and cuddle) buddy is definitely the dog! The best book I have read in the last year would most certainly be The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, a WWII book (ofcourse) about the resilience of two sisters working to oppose the Nazi occupation of France. I am super excited about this new partnership and am looking forward to contributing to The Procrastinate Reader!
Please feel free to visit my blog here:

Love Always & Talk Soon,



Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

ISBN: 0062363603

Back Cover Synopsis:

           Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as "human computers" used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.
           Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women. Originally math teachers in the South's segregated public schools, these gifted professionals answered Uncle Sam's call during the labor shortages of World War II. With new jobs at the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton, Virginia, they finally had a shot at jobs that would push their skills to the limits.
           Even as Virginia's Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley's all-black "West Computing" group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens.
            Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement and the Space Race, Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Kristine Johnson, and Christine Darden -- four African American women who participated in some of NASA's greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades as they faced challenges, forged alliances, and used their intellect to change their own lives, and their county's future.

Kristen's Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Kristen's Review:

What I liked:
  • I loved the span of time the book covers, beginning in the Second World War and ending shorty after the moon landing. 
  • I think the women Shetterly used for Hidden Figures were strong choices and their stories are so well interwoven that it is very effective in telling this missing story from history.
  • This story has made me want to learn more about the missing voices from my own community. It has also made me want to be a mathematician and a desire to find and hold onto the joy these women had found in their professional lives. 
  • This book has made me reflect on this historical period with a new understanding and made me realize that I myself take a lot fore-granted, including the strides made for women.
What I disliked:
  • As a true non-fiction book, Hidden Figures was missing the voices and conversations that would have taken part between the women featured in the novel and those around them. Although it probably wasn't possible with this book, I was missing this aspect of the story.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to the fans of non-fiction and history lovers. Just know that this novel reads much closer to a text book than a novel.

I wanted to write down some quotes from Hidden Figures that really impacted my thought process and understanding of this period of time and race relations during this period.

"Even then, Negros were ready to redeem their lives for their long overdue inheritance. But the military forbade them from serving with whites, deeming them mentally deficient for the rigors of combat." pp. 32

"The system that kept the black race at the bottom of American society was so deeply rooted in the nation's history that it was impervious to the country's ideals of equality. Restaurants that refused to serve Dorothy Vaughn had no problem waiting on Germans from the prisoner-or-war camp housed in a detention facility under the James River Bridge in Newport News." pp. 33

"... if a woman wanted to get promoted, she had to leave the computing pool and attach herself to the elbow of an engineer, figure out how to sit at the controls of a wind tunnel, fight for the credit on a research report. To move up, she had to get as close as she could to the room where the ideas were being created." pp.166

"By the measure of the rest of the country, she was an insider's insider. She enjoyed a front-row seat at a spectacle that the rest of the citizenry learned about in the daily newspaper and on the nightly news. But however close she sat to the room where the meetings took place, she was still an outsider if she couldn't get in the door." pp. 178

A quote used in Hidden Figures from Robert Kennedy, "Commenting on the situation in 1963, United States Attorney General Robert Kennedy said, "The only places on earth known not to provide free public education are Communist China, North Vietnam, Sarawak, Singapore, British Honduras --and Prince Edward Country, Virginia."" pp. 204

Followed by: Not another book, but a Hidden Figures movie (which I am going to be watching and comparing with the book)

If you liked this try: Cane River by Lalita Tademy 

Genre(s): Non-fiction, History, WWII, Cold War, Civil Rights

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