Monday, September 12, 2016

Hidden Figures - Margot Lee Shetterly

Hidden Figures
Title: Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race
Author: Margot Lee Shetterly
Publication Date: 9/6/16
Pages: 368
Genre: Historical / Nonfiction
How I Found It: I received a copy from Harper Collins and TLC Books Tours.
Date Completed: 9/6/16

Summary: Starting during WWII, a group of black women worked in Hampton, Virginia as computers. They ran the most important numbers, doing the leg work that took our pilots and astronauts to new heights.

What I Thought: Along with most Americans, I had never heard anything about these women. The stories history has nearly forgotten never cease to amaze me. 

Shetterly picked up this story because she grew up in Hampton. She knew some of these women. She saw them in the community and talked to them at church. As an adult, she began to realize the immensity of what they did. Not only did these women do important work of national security and advancement, they did so in a time when both being a woman and being black meant being relegated to second class status. They defied expectations and fought for equality with hard work and determination. Despite segregated work spaces, lower pay, and lesser professional titles, they were doing something amazing.

Margot Lee Shetterly
The book is very interesting. There's a bit more technical information on the math, science, and space race than I necessarily needed, but it all is an important part of the story. It definitely helps demonstrate the intellectual prowess of these incredible women. Shetterly profiles several women specifically, examining how they came to work at Langely and, eventually, NASA. She catalogs the highlights of their careers and the personal sacrifices they had to make. 

Knowing the story now, I cannot wait to see the movie. This is definitely a story that needs to be told. I'll be interested to see which parts of the book they choose to dramatize and what they choose as a main story line and conflict. To me, the natural answer would seem to be the fight against workplace segregation, but that really is only half of the story. I can only imagine the changes Hollywood would want to make to adapt a story about female mathematicians. They are perfectly interesting on their own, of course, but it does seem like the story may need more of a "hook" to capture modern movie execs. We'll see, I guess. I hope they stay true to the fascinating details Shetterly uncovered in her research. 

*To read other bloggers' thoughts on Hidden Figures, check out the full tour schedule.*
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: I doubt I will, but I definitely want to see the movie and will recommend the book to others

A Reduced Review: Did you know that a group of black female mathematicians did much of the grunt work to get us into space? Me neither. This is their fascinating story. 


  1. Well their story certainly needs to be told.

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed this! I recently added it to my to-read list. I totally agree with your comment about the stories that get lost in history. For instance, I had never heard of orphan trains until I read the novel! Thank goodness for authors who dig up obscure bits of history.

    1. Yes! That one is on my TBR. This is exactly why I love reading. There's so much to learn!

  3. I'm excited about both this book and the movie - this kind of history, revealing what has been covered up or forgotten, is fascinating to me!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.