Learning to See by Elise Hooper (Review by Caitlin Winkler)

1 min read

Rating 4/5 stars

Prior to reading Learning to See by Elise Hooper, I will admit that I had never heard the name Dorothea Lange. However, while reading this novel I skimmed to the last few pages where the author includes several of Lange’s photographs. However, I was surprised to realize that I did in fact know one of her most famous photographs; “Migrant Mother”. Dorothea Lange took this photo following the Great Depression in America and it has become an iconic piece of our history.

            Dorothea Lange grew up in the early 1900’s and lived through two World Wars, the Great Depression, and many significant moments in history such as the incarceration of thousands of Japanese Americans during WWII. The book is told from the perspective of Lange as she navigates life, love, family, and her passion, photography. It was very intriguing as the reader to see how her love of photography and her ambition cost a steep price for her personal life.

            Although this book is historical fiction, it almost reads like a memoir. You hear Dorothea Lange as the narrator struggle between duty to family and desire report the truth. Her work was well renowned but it is very interesting to see in the novel how much push back she often got for attempting to show the truth, to the point were some of her photos were kept by the US Army and not shown to the public. I found her to be an inspirational heroine of history and would highly recommend this book.

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