It's not fair: Not only is Hope Jahren a ridiculously smart scientist, she is also an insanely talented writer. These two things should not be allowed in the same person; it makes the rest of us look bad.
Lab Girl is the memoir of a woman, of a scientist, and of a woman scientist. In alternating chapters that describe the life cycle of a tree (far more fascinating and beautiful than you've ever imagined it to be) and Jahren's own experience with growing, we get a long, wonderful glimpse of what makes a scientist tick. Triumphs and set backs occur professionally and personally, and Jahren's love of science makes the two nearly indistinguishable. We're also treated to the most cogent, comprehensible description of mania that I've ever read, and though it takes up only a few short pages, it will stay with me forever.
Jahren's loving description of the growing tree is so gorgeous at times it nearly brought me to tears. Her unique and amazing relationship with her lab partner, Bill, as well as the birth of her son, definitely did bring me to tears. This book is a tribute and a plea, a call for people to care more about science and the overworked, underpaid practitioners thereof, and an admonition to care for this planet and for each other as best we can. What an incredible woman, writer, scientist, book.