The DNA Connection: Tannenhauser’s Theory, by Joan L. Kelley

High schools and school systems that promote curriculum integration must consider Joan L. Kelly’s The DNA Connection: Tannenhauser’s Theory. The author has stirred genetics, technology, high-powered research, American history, art, social justice and ethics into the flow of this “timely” action-adventure thriller.

A quick look at the book cover disclosed that a field trip for honors science students turned into an adventure in time travel. The author credibly explained the theory of time travel with quotes from Albert Einstein and then inserted Tannenhauser’s Theory which uniquely directed the path followed by each traveler. Kelly’s characters grappled with the ethical dilemma of the modern tendency to push scientific exploration beyond the range of current human wisdom.

Kelly introduced her many vibrant characters with such clarity that this reader easily followed each from the beginning of the book through all their travels. A critique group composed of teens and pre-teens helped Kelly as she shaped her diverse, authentically representative and realistic travelers.

Kelly grabbed this reader’s attention especially when she stranded her travelers in grim circumstances of the past. These sometimes painful encounters turned the facts of history into lived experiences, often with considerable emotional impact. Readers, young and old can never forget these historical events and persons once they have encountered them face to face.

Kelly affirmed the maturity and generosity of her gifted characters. They each learned about themselves, applied their talents to unfamiliar circumstances and opened dialogue with characters in the past in ways that affected their own survival and future prospects. Above all Kelly’s honor students learned to appreciate their ancestry.

Each character and story line was so rich in potential that Kelly could spin-off a dozen novels based on this book. She never relented from teasing the reader as she clearly set up a sequel with the last paragraphs of the book. Who knows what she’ll devise next? Let’s hope it happens soon.

(© 2013 Donald J. Mulcare)

Kelly, Joan L. The DNA Connection: Tannenhauser’s Theory. Bezalel Books: Materford, MI, 2013.

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