24 June 2011 ~ 0 Comments

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

My book club chose this book and I will admit that I wasn’t all that sure about it. It looked kind of… well… weird. I hadn’t even heard of HeLa before. My husband, the Science teacher was so ashamed. I kind of am too because this was absolutely fantastic!

The history on the Lacks family and how Henrietta was just in the right place with the right doctor at the right time is just amazing. I wasn’t expecting it. I even enjoyed the story of the Lacks today and how they are coping with having such an important family member.

With so many medical advances, it’s interesting to me that one woman helped make those advances possible. While this book was part memoir (the author doesn’t talk about himself, but enough that I felt like I was on a journey with him) and part biography, it’s heartwarming.

The author’s writing style was fabulous, her ability to explain complex scientific terms and conditions and condense them down to something that every one can follow is admirable.

I recommend this to science geeks, yes, but more importantly to those about everyone. It really did have a little bit for everyone.

Henrietta Lacks, a poor Southern tobacco farmer, was buried in an unmarked grave sixty years ago. Yet her cells – taken without her knowledge – became one of the most important tools in medical research. Known to science as HeLa, the first “immortal” human cells grown in culture are still alive today, and have been bought and sold by the millions. Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to East Baltimore today, where Henrietta’s family struggles with her legacy.

Rating: ★★★★★

Book count for 2011: 36

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