✨A Study in Don’t Meet Your Heroes✨
TL;DR so you don’t have to listen to my gushing: this book is fantastic. If you love Radiolab or Sy Montgomery, order this book immediately.
On to the waxing poetic.
There’s something about stories like this that I can physically feel. It’s the opposite of how anxiety feels like I’m in the vacuum of space, an absence of air holding my throat in a vice. Stories like this, with words just so. They make me feel full. A sort of synesthesia that’s hopeful and bright.
The thing is: Lulu’s story isn’t one of happily ever afters. On its surface, this book, having read it twice now, shouldn’t make me feel this way. But what the story is, is chock full of wonder.
For podcast/radio fans, I liken it to early seasons of Radiolab or NPR’s Invisibilia, (not surprising since Lulu helped make those things). Those shows craft a story in such a way that is evident in this writing. You open with a story about one thing, but minute by minute, or in this case, chapter by chapter, you get the full picture. That story about one person isn’t what it seemed at first glance.
I don’t want to tell you what this story reveals about its characters of David Starr Jordan, taxonomist, and its author (nor the explanation of the title). The journey to the reveals adds so much weight to words that I won’t rob you of that. Lulu latches herself to this long-dead man, who she’s sure will show her the answers to optimism and hope through chaos. She keeps digging, keeps looking for answers, amazed with everything she learns along the way. But eventually she learns the tried and true lesson of “never meet your heroes.” And where do you go, after such loss? Karmic justice to the rescue.
It’s a story that’s the most comforting mixture of nature writing and biography — like those radio stories — with personal journey thrown in. And Lulu crafts it beautifully.
This is a story I know I will return to again and again — any time I need a reminder to fill my life with moments of wonder. Even when the answers aren’t what you want, the journey feels so great.
Why Fish Don't Exist by Lulu Miller
Read on audiobook, narrated by the author
Thanks to Netgalley & Simon Books for my gifted eARC in exchange for an honest review
Do you love science-y podcasts too? Tell me your favorite!