I first read Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly in May 2018, though I am just now getting to writing up a review! Sheesh!
As you miiiiiight have heard, this book is excellent. It’s a fascinating, well-written account of some of the most influential figures (see what I did there?) of the formative days of NASA. Especially during such an interesting time in recent history — the Cold War, Civil Rights, and of course the space race — makes this story all the more important, as this book deftly illustrates.
We follow the lives of Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughn as their careers with NASA and their personal lives develop and change. This in-depth look at these remarkable, talented, trailblazing women is well worth a read.
I know so far this has been a pretty generic review and you’ve probably heard this before, but all those other places you heard it are right. We see how they navigate the transition from being math teachers to working at Langley, how unfair and infuriating life still was even in such an exciting, challenging line of work (segregation based on both race and gender), and the complexities of trying to be an African American woman with a career in the Jim Crow South. They face many obstacles, but manage to do great things.
I loved reading this, and seeing the details and complexities of this time period, and the strength and ingenuity of these women, and all the others they worked with. This book is so empowering and important. Because — as I also mentioned in my review of Code Girls — we get to know these women not just as the influential, pioneering professionals but as regular women. They have marriages, children, and issues and triumphs that we all have. They are everyday heroes who were extraordinary due to their work, but also just due to daring to be themselves.
The film version of this book is also excellent. If you haven’t seen it, you should check it out. And read this book. 🙂
Overall rating: 8.5/10
Have you read Hidden Figures? What are your thoughts?