How appropriate that Carolyn Abraham’s new book, The Juggler’s Children was launched this April, a month of famous genetic research anniversaries.
Sixty years ago, in April 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick published their paper in Nature about their discovery of the double helix structure of deoxyribose nucleic acid, DNA.
And ten years ago, in April 2003, the Human Genome Project sequenced and published the complete human genome, all three billion base pairs of DNA that form the genetic blueprint for a human being.
The Juggler’s Children recounts Abraham’s globe-trotting journey to trace the origins of her own genetic genealogy. Her compelling narrative and deft handling of the science combine to make the book an enjoyable read. She brings the reader along on her cheek-swabbing travels, making complex concepts like haplotypes, mitochondrial DNA and nucleotides easy to navigate. As she discovers genetic secrets from her family’s past, she explores the moral issues about what to do with the new information. You can read an excerpt of The Juggler’s Children at The Globe and Mail.
Coincidentally, Carolyn and I have crossed paths the last three Aprils in a row. In April 2011, I attended her talk at the University of Toronto’s Massey Grand Rounds on the topic of Medicine in the Media. Then in April 2012, I invited Carolyn to speak at a professional development event about health and science writing for PWAC Toronto Chapter. This April, it was both a pleasure and an honour to attend her book launch and signing at Ben McNally Books in Toronto.
I wonder what’s going to happen next April. I continue to be captivated by the possibilities for personal genetics and what we will be able to learn about ourselves in the future.