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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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I would recommend this book be read by all . It's an amazing true story . It also shows just how important people of color have been in the medical world.Published 4 hours ago by Tina Johnson
Five stars because of its importance to all of us. Also for the incredible amount of time and work Skloot put into gathering information no one else had yet been able to procure,... Read morePublished 19 hours ago by The Jajh
This is a great book. I've bought it as a gift and read it many times my self. I highly recommend you buy it!Published 1 day ago by Irritable Brachiosaur Syndrome
one of the best books I have read in the past year. I give it a 99 out of 100Published 1 day ago by Bill T. Butterman
The story of Henrietta Lacks' immortal cells is both a mystery and demonstration that the road to hell is paced with good intentions. Read morePublished 1 day ago by sailor
interesting but after reading to about the middle, it did not hold my interest.Published 1 day ago by Jill Matthis
Ms. Skloot took an extremely difficult subject and made it very personal. Like the entire Lacks family I was angered by the lack of respect they received. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Maxine