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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 couldn't put this book down! Henrietta Lacks unkind treatment by the medical and research professions was sad and unfair to her and her family. Read morePublished 8 hours ago by bravi
Very well written. Author makes the book easily readable for all types of reader, even if you don't have a science background.Published 2 days ago by ChillsnThrills
This book came in excellent condition and it was everything I expected it to be and more. If you are a medical student I highly recommend you read this book before any other book.Published 2 days ago by Karl W. Fields
Excellent story. I read the library copy of it, but bought this for a friend.Published 4 days ago by Connie W.
Fabulous! Sad and wonderful all at the same time. I highly recommend it.Published 5 days ago by Diane Stiles
This was a wonderful story of perseverance and caring. The medical information was very enlightening. It is a well written book. Very touching.Published 6 days ago by Amazon Customer