If you like: parasites * murder * science
In The Dinosaur Feather, Anna is nearing the completion of her dissertation when one of her supervising professors is mysteriously murdered. With just two weeks until her presentation and defense, Anna's whole world is shaken as the investigation delves into the department and her life. As the mystery surrounding Professor Helland’s death is investigated, Anna realizes there are many pieces to her own life that haven’t been put together yet, either.
Anna’s dissertation is an examination of the controversy of whether or not dinosaurs are birds. Her advisers are staunch proponents of the theory that birds are modern day dinosaurs. Their most vocal opponent has dedicated his life to the theory that they are two entirely different types of creatures. The bitter opposition between the groups is initially believed to drive the murder of Helland. Though it is hard to picture the academic characters resorting to the extreme action of murder in order to silence an opponent, the argument is so fervent it is not out of the realm of possibility. This is what Anna seeks to end with her dissertation. Though she is partial to the views of her advisers, she is able to take an impartial stance at her data review in order to evaluate both sides with fresh eyes. Her youth allows her to step back from the arguments that all other parties are too close to, and have lived with for too long. Though she often feels that her efforts are not taken seriously enough, she is a powerful, insightful researcher. Her place in the field will enable everyone to move forward towards new discoveries instead of attempting to re-prove discoveries from the past.
Although Anna’s work focuses on the evolution of dinosaurs and birds, her personal evolution is an equal part of the story. She has a brusque personality, and is easily angered. She has strained relationships with many people in her life, and often wonders if she keeps loving people who will leave her, or if she is the one making them leave. The mystery of Helland’s death leads her to the mysteries of her own past. As she begins to be confident in who she is, and her own agency to take command of her professional future, she also begins to approach her life with fresh eyes. The professional rite of passage becomes a catalyst for personal evolution. Gazan does not need to explore Anna’s future after her dissertation, the foundation provided is enough of a glimpse into the person she will become that the reader can imagine a much happier ending for Anna. Sometimes it is important to find out the harsh realities in order to move on. Keeping secrets to protect those you love seems to always hurt them in the long run. A quick cut can be much less painful than a long festering wound. Anna uses the scientific process to evaluate her own life. She gets rid of her assumptions and looks at the facts. Most importantly, she knows she must let go of the things she has believed in that don’t fit with new evidence. Science and life are both constantly evolving, and you must be willing to move with them, or you will be left behind.
If you have carefully considered your arguments, read The Dinosaur feather.
Gazan, S.J.. The Dinosaur Feather. Quercus, 2013. Kindle Edition.