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The Independent Critic

 Book Review: Sharks Don't Sink by Jasmin Graham 
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I'm not sure there's a better way to begin a review of Jasmin Graham's "Sharks Don't Sink: Adventures of a Rogue Shark Scientist" than to enthusiastically recommend that the folks behind Shark Week snag up this enthusiastic, energized shark devotee for the next season of Shark Week.

I'm quite serious. Whether or not you resonate with Graham's passion for sharks, you'll most assuredly get caught up in her enthusiasm and spirited advocacy for one of nature's most misunderstood animals.

Graham is a marine biologist and co-founder of Minorities in Shark Sciences (MISS). "Sharks Don't Sink" is part exploration of Graham's work as a marine biologist and part life-affirming memoir about how this young Black scientist has grown to flourish by placing herself outside the traditional confines of academia.

If you're expecting a straightforward exploration of the world of sharks, "Sharks Don't Sink" may be a tad disappointing as it's as much memoir as it is a journey through the world of sharks. Don't get me wrong. Graham's knowledge of sharks is impressive and her enthusiasm absolutely engaging, however, a good amount of "Sharks Don't Sink" also covers Graham's struggle in the often older white world of shark experts and her conflicts with particular expert she not so affectionately refers to as Dr. Minion.

She might have some unresolved issues there.

Joining with three other Black women, Graham formed MISS, an organization dedicated to providing support and opportunities for other young women of color pursuing the world of marine studies. She dedicated herself as a "rogue scientist," an independent researcher who has still managed to grow impressively in the field.

"Sharks Don't Sink" is a rich, informative, and incredibly moving memoir that delves into social justice along with marine studies. Graham's exploration of how we can learn to respect and protect some of nature's most misunderstood creatures becomes, in turn, a guide to how we can embrace with grace those who are different from us and those who bring different gifts to the table.

Graham writes with an engaging honesty and relentless enthusiasm. It's an enthusiasm that keeps you immersed in her world even when she's using language you may not completely understand. I was captivated. You'll be captivated. Easily one of early 2024's most unexpected joys, "Sharks Don't Sink" is destined to be one of my favorites this year.

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic