Unlike previous books, which focused almost exclusively on the mysteries entwined in our DNA, Zimmer chooses heredity as his subject, which includes nongenetic arcs as well. He commences with vivid historical anecdotes ... For all the rich cultural ground Zimmer covers, She Has Her Mother’s Laugh shines supernova-bright as he teases out the genomic threads of heredity. Mendel’s Law, epigenetic influences, the revolutionary CRISPR molecules — they’re all here, painted in the nuanced tones of a Renaissance master ... Zimmer’s medical investigations unfold with the suspense and flair of a novel ... a lush, enthralling book that transforms the reader with its insights.
His approach is dangerously encyclopedic — my copy of the book weighs several pounds — because he chooses (rightly, in my view) to combine the history of the field with a detailed account of current developments ... [Zimmer] does a good job of avoiding the encyclopedia trap, larding his account with plenty of colorful stories. At times, however, he does get mired in overly long stories while trying to give the book a folksy feel ... The strength of the book, then, is its combination of accuracy, journalistic clarity and scientific authority ... Zimmer’s book is an excellent way to get up to speed in these areas, but be aware that there are a couple of recent competitors that give much the same information.
...[an] extraordinary new book ... She Has Her Mother’s Laugh particularly shines when it comes to engaging with the notion of race, a topic once again pushed to the forefront of public discourse ... This book is Zimmer at his best: obliterating misconceptions about science with gentle prose ... Any fan of his previous books or his journalism will appreciate this work. But so, too, will parents wishing to understand the magnitude of the legacy they’re bequeathing to their children, people who want to grasp their history through genetic ancestry testing and those seeking a fuller context for the discussions about race and genetics so prevalent today.