An indispensable resource for understanding the complex world of over-the-counter genetic testing.




A guide focuses on direct-to-consumer genetics and the genomic social network.  

Pistoi (Il DNA Incontra Facebook, 2012) begins this edifying work with an exploration of his own DNA. He fills a test tube with spit and sends it off to, a company that offers direct-to-consumer genetic services. For the price of $99, he will learn about his own genetic profile. The author admits that, as someone who has studied the genetic material of other people for years (he holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology), it feels a bit strange for him to be looking at an analysis of his own. Yet this is the state of present-day technology. Consumers who pay for such a process can join a social network of genetic relatives, discover common ancestors, and even delve into more esoteric topics like the idea of following diets based on their DNA. Of course, this all comes with a price, whether it is the complications of genetic privacy or unscrupulous businesses attempting to cash in on ideas without a lot of scientific backing. In the end, Pistoi warns that, though the technology is thrilling, “genetics is not destiny and DNA is not prophecy.” The manual strikes a highly readable balance between excitement and caution. Although readers initially get more detail about the specifics of the author’s spitting into a tube than they may have bargained for (“My spit tube is only half full and my salivary glands are already dry”), the impressive book explores territory that is both easy to understand and enlightening. From a discussion of alleles (“Each allele is a different flavour of the same gene that exist in a population…we inherit two alleles of each gene and their combination affects our traits”) to describing the ways in which genetic testing can aid law enforcement, topics are underscored with useful information. For instance, on the ever controversial subject of race, Pistoi points out that the concept is generally understood to be a social construct. As the author notes about genetic markers in different populations, “none is found only in one or another, making it impossible to establish any category that is remotely scientifically accurate.” What then, can be gleaned from human DNA? A lot of illuminating things, it turns out, but certainly not everything.  

An indispensable resource for understanding the complex world of over-the-counter genetic testing.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-909979-90-1

Page Count: 262

Publisher: Crux Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?


Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet