Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly, is a historical novel published by HarperCollins Publishers, copyright 2016.
Shetterly tells us that her mother, along with four of her schoolmates fresh out of high school, challenged the courses at John Carol University, one of the most renowned engineering colleges in the country. At the time, the late 30’s and early 40’s, the university was all male students and had the attitude that women were incapable of the higher math skills required to design and produce well-engineered machinery, equipment, and buildings. These women met and conquered that challenge.
Her mom met her father there but they sent him off to build bridges in France during WWII. When he returned with a purple heart they produced and raised eight children. As the last of them were ready to leave the nest, Shetterly’s mother went back to college and impressed so many people that NASA took notice and invited her to travel the country and give lectures on the importance of research and analysis of data related to the aerodynamics and trajectories required for space flight.
This amazing historical novel that has shown me the challenges that these women faced and the added fact that these remarkable women were of African American descent touched me on a deeply emotional level and I give all my praise and thanks to Margaret Lee Shetterly for bringing to the world an awareness of what these truly heroic and determined women accomplished. These women were raising families, dealing with segregation in school as well as in the workplace, and on top of this they solved and computed some of the most difficult and amazing mathematical equations to ever be used by humankind.
By reading the prologue alone I was completely engaged in what this incredible novel tells us about America and the sacrifice and ingenuity it has taken to make this country the amazing nation it is today. Shetterly crafts an incredible narrative of the personal lives and the families who worked so hard to improve not only themselves but the people around them as well as our country. She follows this incredible novel with an epilogue that sums it up so well. Having done that she gives us acknowledgments and credits for all who helped create a book that I will never forget.
Afterwards, there are several pages that give reference to where to find specific information throughout the book. Highly recommended reading for all and I’m happy to say it has become a major motion picture.
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