Dr Huxley’s Bequest: A History of Medicine in Thirteen Objects

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Michelle Cooper, Dr Huxley’s Bequest: A History of Medicine in Thirteen Objects, Self-published, 15 Jan 2018, 350pp., $28.59 (pbk),  ISBN: 9780648165132

The school summer holidays have not been that exciting for thirteen-year-olds, Jaz and Rosy. Jaz’s father and Rosy’s mother both work at the university and the deserted campus does not offer much in the way of entertainment for teenagers.

As a result of circumstance both girls are tasked with organising and presenting a bequeathed collection of unusual items. Through a mishap, Jaz and Rosy no longer have the labels to provide any indication of what the items may be, nor of their scientific and historical significance. Identifying the strange and unusual objects makes for an interesting challenge. Working together to solve the mysteries, the girls forge a friendship and foster a love of scientific reasoning.

Channelling Sherlock and Watson, Rosy and Jaz journey through the history of medicine to piece together the connections between, and significance of, each item. Their research uncovers an intriguing story of mankind’s medical advancements.

This thoroughly researched chronology of medicinal inventions, discoveries and disasters is presented in an interesting and engaging manner. Dr Huxley’s Bequest is a fascinating look at the role science, pseudo-science, and convenient accidents have had on the well-being of humanity.

With likable characters, a delightful (mostly fictitious) Australian university setting, no adult themes (aside from the occasional gruesome medical description), Dr Huxley’s Bequest: A History of Medicine in Thirteen Objects is perfect for readers aged 12 and up.

Reviewed by Fiona Miller-Stevens

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