Heiligman, Deborah. (2009). Charles and Emma: The Darwin’s Leap of Faith. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company.
Charles and Emma follows the life and marriage of Charles and Emma Darwin. The story begins after Darwin returned to England from his 5 year voyage aboard the HMS Beagle. Darwin decides that he would have a fuller richer life if he married and at 30 he and his cousin Emma Wedgewood were married. Darwin’s work left him feeling very conflicted about religion and the role of a creator. Emma on the other hand was devote and believed in God as creator and in an afterlife in heaven or hell. Darwin and Emma were both exceptionally well read and intelligent and though they never did agree on the subject of religion they were able to weigh both sides of the argument and support each others beliefs. Darwin feared the uproar his theories might create and because of that spent twenty years honing his research and perfecting his argument before he published On the Origin of Species, his most famous work. Emma acted as his editor, reading all his work and helping him to strengthen his argument. Together they had 10 children, 7 growing to adulthood. Charles and Emma tells the story of an unlikely, but strong marriage full of love and respect.
Reading this book I was touched by the relationship that Darwin and Emma shared. They truly loved and respected each other. They wrote numerous letters to one another, even after they were married, that describe their marriage as a partnership of mutual love and respect. Emma worried about Darwin’s soul and whether she would see him again in heaven and Darwin worried too, he truly wanted to believe for Emma’s sake, but could not ignore the evidence presented in his work. After reading this book you really feel like you have a sense of who Charles Darwin was, he was a very thoughtful and caring husband, father, and scientist. This is an excellent book that is sure to be enjoyed by teens and adults alike.
Michael L. Printz Honor 2010
National Book Award finalist 2009
YALSA Award for Excellence in Non-fiction 2010
Junior Library Guild Selection
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults 2010