jump to navigation

CHARLES AND EMMA: THE DARWINS’ LEAP OF FAITH By: Deborah Heiligman January 10, 2011

Posted by lycan librarian in book reviews, Books and reading.

         This is the account of an interesting and odd couple, neither of whom were ever very anxious to ever get married. The Lycan Librarian loves nonfiction that reads like fiction, and this selection tells the story of Charles Darwin, his reluctant decision to marry, and the challenges his wife, Emma, faced as a very religious woman. There are some great photographs in the center of the book, and the most remarkable is young Darwin’s handwritten list of the reasons to and not to marry.
     The book follows Darwin through the revelations that lead to his Theory of Evolution. Although Emma was frightened by his idea, the couple had a long and successful marriage, and Darwin had a houseful of scientific specimens in his children — the couple had ten and lost three. There have been many books written about Darwin, but none that studied this angle of his life, and this slight twist of topic is what makes this particular book so intriguing. We think of the man as a brilliant scientist, and so we elevate him above the rest of us. Nobody had previously considered his doubts,  the everyday issues of his life, his emotions, or those other little bits and pieces that made him as human as the rest of us.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This book is a delightful and very quick read about an impossible relationship that mirrors the author’ own marriage. Heiligman is a religious studies major who fell in love with and married a science writer. In both relationships, the author notes, it was the human connection that was important and led to successful partnerships.

Below are a list of awards this book has won. This reader did not realize it was a YA selection until she stumbled upon the following, but it is a book all ages will enjoy.

2010 National Book Award finalist

2010 Michael L. Printz Honor book

L.A. Times Book Prize Young Adult Literature finalist

First-ever 2010 YALSA excellence in nonfiction award

New York Times Editor’s Choice – Click here to read the entire review.

2010 CCBC Choices List

Oprah’s Book Club 2010 Kids’ Reading List: 12 and Up



No comments yet — be the first.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: