A novel based on the true story of the woman who stopped a pandemic. In 1940s and '50s America, polio is as dreaded as the atomic bomb. Outbreaks of the virus across the country regularly put American cities in lockdown. Some of the world's best minds are engaged in the race to find a vaccine. But Dorothy Horstmann is not focused on beating her colleagues to the vaccine. She just wants the world to have a cure.
Cullen does a powerful job layering the challenges Horstmann faces as she fights for relevance in a male-dominated industry ... A cast of supporting female characters strengthen Cullen’s depiction of the constraints placed on women ... There’s an abundance of complex science packed into this narrative, much of it delivered as dialogue between characters, that could have been condensed. But Cullen effectively demonstrates how it took more than 30 years to eradicate polio largely because of male egoism ... A scrupulously researched history lesson wrapped up in a modern exploration of the evolving role women have played in society.
Cullen’s well-researched novel painstakingly humanizes the behind-the-scenes intricacies of the urgent search to create a global vaccine against the poliovirus ... Lynn Cullen does an extraordinary job of fluidly taking the reader from 1940 to 1963 by including significant historical moments and sensitive social concerns in the story’s evenly paced momentum ... The balance of historic fact and scientific detail is beautifully tempered by Dorothy Horstmann’s personal story. She’s a woman we champion from the start, enthusiastically follow, and come to recognize as one of history’s great heroines.