Rebekah's Reviews > Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith

Charles and Emma by Deborah Heiligman
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Jan 07, 12


The best nonfiction tells a story, and this gem conveys an eloquently written tale of love and compromise. Charles Darwin is best known for his controversial theory of evolution, and many books discuss the politics surrounding his science. Heiligman provides the reader with something unique, a narrative centered on Darwin's private life. Of course, Darwin was deeply immersed in science, and there is no way of divorcing the man from his studies, but this biography puts his work within the context of his loving marriage to Emma Wedgewood, a faithful Christian woman. The couple's differing religious views serves as an analogy for the debate between religion and science. Messages of tolerance, acceptance, and communication will encourage teens to think about how they respond to ideas and people different from themselves. Darwin spent over 15 years debating whether or not to publish his work, but as Heiligman writes, "he hoped that even if there was controversy, it wouldn't be personal. He hoped the public, though they might disagree with what he was saying, would still like the person who was saying it. Emma did" (p. 185). I highly recommend this book for grades 9+.
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