Book: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
For: Book Club
From: Library book club set
I feel like I'm late to the party with this book. I've been wanting to read it forever, but you've all probably read it already and therefore know how awesome it is.
But just in case, this is the fascinating story of a family whose mother's cells (taken from her cancer tumor in 1951) are the famous HeLa cells that have been growing in research laboratories ever since that day. Those immortal cells have made it possible to discover all sorts of cancer medicines and cures for other diseases and many many other important scientific things.
The best thing about this book, though, is not the science bits, but the human bits. First of all, we truly get to know this lady.. this lady who went unknown for more than 20 years after she made such a contribution to science, if unknowingly. And then, we get to know the terrible impact all this has had on her living family. And you really really feel for them.
In fact, there were a lot of things this book made me feel.
It made me feel sad, especially for the family, who did not at all understand what happened with their mom and what it meant that her cells are now forever living.
It made me feel angry that people didn't stop long enough to explain to them, and to make them feel better by giving recognition to their mom.
It made me feel really really angry when after Henrietta died, her kids were handed over to an abusive aunt who pretty much proceeded to destroy the life of the baby.
It made me feel grateful to the author for tackling such a subject and making it readable and understandable and like I said above, so human.
It made me feel proud of the smart people, who even though they may have gone about it in the wrong way, are able to take cells and figure out things that will help us all. The science is actually very cool.
It made me feel creeped out to learn that they save all sorts of things that they take from or off our bodies and keep them just in case! EWWWW!!
It made me feel interested and invested because it was like the author became a character in the story and we were there right along with her discovering all the things.
It made me feel happy for having finally read it!
Bottom line: I loved this book! If you haven't read it, do put it on your pile and do NOT be scared of the science of it, because it is very well done as far as making us "normal" people get it.
Where The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks shines is with the personal stories and history of the Lacks family. From Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity
Skloot is a gifted science writer who has the ability to explain what this story means effectively and colorfully. From Sophisticated Dorkiness
The story itself wrenched my heart, while at the same time educating me on so much, which is a difficult balance to pull off. From Avid Reader's Musings
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is one of those books that came with extremely high expectations, almost always certain to leave me at least a little disappointed no matter how good the book is. This book was an exception; it is every bit as good as I was hoping. From Lit and Life