4.23.2011

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a wonderful book about a woman named Henrietta Lacks, who died of cervical cancer in the 1950s. Doctors from Johns Hopkins hospital in Baltimore, removed a sample of her cells, without her knowledge or consent, for research. Her cells were used in developing the polio vaccine and other medical developments, yet for years her family never knew the cells existed, and Henrietta never received recognition, nor did her family receive any compensation, despite the cells being sold the world over.

Rebecca Skloot is a terrific storyteller as she relays the story from the family's point of view, as well as from the scientific point of view, which was very interesting. She keeps the scientific discussion in layman's terms, so it never became dull or complicated. The book covers medical ethics (or lack thereof), science, racism, and history. As I read it, at different turns I was fascinated, appalled, laughing, crying, sympathetic, angry, horrified, touched...the feelings go on and on.

I highly recommend this to everyone.

In Rebecca Skloot's own words:

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