May 17, 2017

[REVIEW] Hidden Figures

title: Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of Four African-American Women Who Helped Launch Our Nation into Space
author: Margot Lee Shetterly
genre: nonfiction, history, biography
publish: November 29, 2016 by HarperCollins
purchase: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
rating: 4.5 / 5 stars
Young Readers' Edition
From World War II through NASA's golden age, four African-American women confidently and courageously stepped into the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (now known as NASA).  
Their job? To provide the mathematical calculations that would help increase airplane production during wartime and eventually send the United States into space for the very first time. Hidden Figures follows the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, who participated in some of the United States' greatest aeronautic successes. These women who lived through and persevered against the backdrop of some of the biggest movements ever to shape our nation's history: the Civil Rights era, the Space Race, and the fight for gender equality. With photographs and rich historical detail, Margot Lee Shetterly brings to life the struggles these four women, and others, overcame to forever change the face of air and space travel.
have you seen the movie? read this book.
haven't seen the movie? read this book.

I've always been interested to read a nonfiction. I have a few now on my shelf and on my ereader but I've always been hesitating. But I finally grabbed this. I finally read this. I watched the movie, by the way. I decided to read the book because: (1) nonfiction dealing with important matters is my thing (actually anything dealing with important matters is my thing but of course those in relation to history are at the top of my priority); (2) the movie was bloodydamn great and a real eyeopener; (3)  love anything that has something to do with history, okay?

These women should be celebrated not just because they are black or because they are women, but because they are an important part of American history. -p3

Unlike the movie, Hidden Figures started from the end of the civil war in the 1800's where African American were freed from slavery. However, they were not given equal rights and were always discriminated. From that point on to the second World War to NASA's 'golden age.' This book tells it all and how these African-American women rose and broke not only the racial barrier but also the gender barrier - not fully yet but close enough.

Reading this was difficult because my mind kept on looking back at the movie which I must say full of inconsistencies (I couldn't strongly say when it comes to actual facts since I'm not very well verse with history but more on what's written in the book and what's shown in the movie adaptation). Not only did the movie covered just a part of this book but it also had inconsistencies (i know it's wikipedia but the statements here were the same things I observed and ranted about as I read). However, that did not stop me from getting absorbed into his book and the lives of these four women (mostly three actually, since Darden only came later in the last couple of chapters in the book).

But being black in America was a never-ending series of decisions about when to fight and when to let things go. -p44

I ended up admiring the three women - Vaughan, Jackson, and Johnson - even more, especially Dorothy Vaughan. This book showed how strongly these women kept their feet on the ground; face every difficulty that comes their way; and showed everyone that they can be better or on equal footing not only with White Americans but also with Men. This book really stressed the fact that they live in a difficult time where everything was clearly against them for no good reason other than pride.

Since I read the young readers' edition, each chapter is short. It was (unusually) interesting and easy to understand. There were several historical facts mention that are not directly in relation to the NASA or to the women being showcased in this book such as the call for female workers during the WWII. I was never bored. The writing is straight forward and I love how powerful each woman was depicted.

For women who found their true calling at NASA, they matched their male colleagues in curiosity, passion, and the ability to withstand pressure. -p143

OVERALL, Hidden Figures is an important read. It's recommended for history readers especially those who are new to nonfiction. It's a quick and easy read. It has a straightforward yet powerful writing. This is easily one of my favorite books right now!

let's connect!


  1. Love this movie! But I definitely need to read the book as well. It sounds like it's more expansive than the movie version. :)

    1. it has so, so much more than what the movie showed. also, the movie had a lot of inaccuracies (i still like it though). I hope you read and enjoy this, Joy!

  2. I absolutely need to try this novel and watch the movie! :)


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