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Honestly, I can't imagine a better tale.
A detective story that's at once mythically large and painfully intimate.
Just the simple facts are hard to believe: that in 1951, a poor black woman named Henrietta Lacks dies of cervical cancer, but pieces of the tumor that killed her--taken without her knowledge or consent--live on, first in one lab, then in hundreds, then thousands, then in giant factories churning out polio vaccines, then aboard rocket ships launched into space. The cells from this one tumor would spawn a multi-billion dollar industry and become a foundation of modern science--leading to breakthroughs in gene mapping, cloning and fertility and helping to discover how viruses work and how cancer develops (among a million other things). All of which is to say: the science end of this story is enough to blow one's mind right out of one's face.
But what's truly remarkable about Rebecca Skloot's book is that we also get the rest of the story, the part that could have easily remained hidden had she not spent ten years unearthing it: Who was Henrietta Lacks? How did she live? How she did die? Did her family know that she'd become, in some sense, immortal, and how did that affect them? These are crucial questions, because science should never forget the people who gave it life. And so, what unfolds is not only a reporting tour de force but also a very entertaining account of Henrietta, her ancestors, her cells and the scientists who grew them.
The book ultimately channels its journey of discovery though Henrietta's youngest daughter, Deborah, who never knew her mother, and who dreamt of one day being a scientist.
As Deborah Lacks and Skloot search for answers, we're bounced effortlessly from the tiny tobacco-farming Virginia hamlet of Henrietta's childhood to modern-day Baltimore, where Henrietta's family remains. Along the way, a series of unforgettable juxtapositions: cell culturing bumps into faith healings, cutting edge medicine collides with the dark truth that Henrietta's family can't afford the health insurance to care for diseases their mother's cells have helped to cure.
Rebecca Skloot tells the story with great sensitivity, urgency and, in the end, damn fine writing. I highly recommend this book. --Jad Abumrad
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Very interesting and enlightening story! The author does an excellent job presenting the information and holding your attention.Published 1 day ago by Momma Moose
Highly recommend for all to read and learn about healthcare disparities, access to healthcare, rights and regulations.Published 1 day ago by Elesha Kirkland
I cannot tell you the appreciation I have for this book.. It is a must read for anyone.Published 1 day ago by Lolita Kay Spangler
There isn't enough I can say about this masterpiece. Vivid writing, breadth of research, warm human compassion, clear science and all of it coherent, compelling and engaging. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Lou Phillips
Nice read, though the author seems a bit obsessed with race. The material devoted to the science of the time is excellent.Published 2 days ago by herran
What an interesting story! Amazing and little know marvel of science and history!Published 3 days ago by Jill Hamilton Smith
Wonderful book that everyone should read. So many issues that will make you angry, resentful, frustrated and enlightened about what happens in the name of science and how... Read morePublished 3 days ago by Linda Pompei