(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Lucy was originally meant not for a young adult audience but for a college-educated reader who lacked formal training in science. Nevertheless, the book’s style, its clear explanations, and the numerous illustrations make it suitable for high school students with an interest in science, especially those excited about the process as well as the results of scientific inquiry.

The authors’ ability to present complicated material in a way that is accessible to teenagers places them among such science writers as Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould.

The major theme of Lucy is one that is of natural interest to young adults. During their teenage years, many people ask questions about where they come from, how they got here, and why they are who they are. This is essentially what Lucy is about, although it asks these questions about all humankind rather than about a particular individual.

The strongest connection between writers and readers is made when the reader is given someone with which to identify. Lucy, the Australopithecus afarensis, provides that someone. Although she was only three-and-a-half-feet tall and probably weighed no more than sixty pounds, and although she was nothing more than bones when she was found, Lucy becomes a living and breathing creature to the readers of Johanson and Edey’s book. They care about Lucy, and the questions that they ask about her are probably the same ones that they ask about themselves. The book even offers some answers, at least partial ones.

Readers are told that humankind originated in Africa but that different groups soon began...

(The entire section is 678 words.)