Author: Margot Lee Shetterly
Hidden Figures recounts the untold stories of the black women who helped put a man on the moon, formerly known as the West Computers of the NACA. Overcoming the double jeopardy of being both black and female, the black women of the NACA used their wits, tenacity, and determination to help change the history.
When the ads for Hidden Figures came out last year I was ecstatic. Not only did the movie look great and have a spectacular story to tell, the headliners were black women! I hadn’t seen the movie before starting the book, but I was excited anyway. I’m sorry to say I was disappointed. Very disappointed, in fact.
I don’t think Shetterly grasped the concept of storytelling. Just because a book is non-fiction doesn’t stop it from being a book. There still has to be elements of style and flow in it. Hidden Figures felt like I was reading a textbook from high school. It was sentence after sentence of information dumps about NACA’s history, the women, their kids, civil rights, and anything else Shetterly thought she could cram in there. I 100% appreciate that this book picked up so much traction and brought attention to these women and the work they did, but I wish the book was written more like a book, and less like a research paper.
The book did give out some fun facts about the women and how incredibly gifted they were, but it wasn’t enough to help slough through the passages about Mach 5 and theoretical physics. At 265 pages this book took as much effort as Chronicle of the Murdered House which clocked in at about 600.
Hidden Figures was the first book for my ONTD Reading Challenge and I’m just glad it’s over. All the technical talk and lack of personality dragged on for some time. I wouldn’t recommend it unless you personally have a love for engineering or space travel.
February’s theme is We Are All Learning. Basically just picking up a non-fiction book and learning something new. My pick for this month is Angry White Men by Michael Kimmel. Maybe this book can explain why Donald Drumpf is such a prick! (Fingers crossed!)