June 08, 2010
I'm half-way through The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. It’s a story of science and a family history. Henrietta was an African-American woman whose cells were taken without her consent as she was tested for cervical cancer. Although her normal cells died in the lab, Lacks' cancer cells reproduced, were sent to labs all over the world, and generated new laboratory procedures, inventions, tests, and profits.
Lacks died from cancer in 1951. It's hard to reconcile the picture of the smiling woman on the cover (there's just a bit of a 'tude, there) with the poverty she endured and her painful death. Her children suffered without her care, some too young to understand why their mother was taken from them. And they continued to suffer, physically and financially, not learning for 20 years that the results of research on their mother's cells improved health care for a whole nation.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was an easy choice to purchase for our library, as it was reviewed well and earned a place on the the New York Times Bestseller List. It lives up to its reputation—it's an easy read—like a novel. I'll let you know when I finish it, or you can place it on hold for yourself!Tags: reading, Books, book review