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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 found the book very interesting and well written.
Rebecca Skloot did an amazing job of bringing the story of Henrietta Lacks, The Lacks Family, HeLa and medical research to life in great detail.
This is an amazing story of a woman -- Henrietta Lacks --whose cancer cells are still being used for research.
It's a good story, odd in that way that truth is stranger than fiction. I love the way Henrietta's story, her family, the descriptions of their lives ~ were defined. Read morePublished 3 hours ago by B. Michel
I loved this book. It is such a compelling story and yet largely unknown. This should be on everyone's BTR list if not already read.Published 4 hours ago by Emma Weston
Intriguing, furthermore I felt the author trusted her editor a little too much! As the book seemed too restrained.Published 5 hours ago by DonFodio
A fascinating and horrifying travel through the life of a woman and her family. Henrietta Lacks has done more for finding cures for disease and ameliorating the pain and misery of... Read morePublished 6 hours ago by silvia elias
Informative story about medical ethics, poverty, and race. A must read!Published 21 hours ago by keita girl
This is a fantastic book. You will learn so much about cells and what they can do; about those who seek to profit off those cells, and those who have no clue what it's all about... Read morePublished 2 days ago by maltasama
Best book I have read in a long time. This book will blow you away. All this time I didn't know. She needs to be mentioned during black history month.Published 2 days ago by Bridget L. Smith
We owe her so much. It's ashame that she was not told upfront about using her cells for medical research. Thank you Henrietta.Published 2 days ago by Sherry C. Cotten