Henrietta's surviving children and grandchildren read and reviewed the book before it was published and agreed with the way it was presented. So far, 5 of the Lacks family have received full tuition (and cost of books) grants from the Lacks Foundation that was set up from the proceeds of this book. I am not the author nor do I know the author. This is information I learned from the Foundation.
I admired the way Skloot looked at the Lacks family with respect and empathy rather than judgment and think it was a real strength of the book how clearly and fully she presented their unvarnished world and that of many other African Americans in the South. To me, the lives of Henrietta and her relatives illustrated the shattering legacy of American slavery, where men, women and children were bought and sold like livestock and torn from their families and forced to sleep together in conditions hard for most of us to imagine. The poverty and lack of societal help that took four-year-old Henrietta to a shared bedroom with her older (nine-year-old?) male cousin is a situation I'm glad I've never had to face and one I would never blame those children or their parents and relatives for given the resources they had and the experiences they'd endured as descendants of slaves (or actual slaves) of the Lacks family. If people are treated as objects and sex objects, kept from having or honoring marriages and monogamous commitments of their own and forced to serve at their Master's pleasure from the earliest years, what is learned and expected and can be passed on down the line?
To blame Day for victimizing Henrietta and bringing home HPV (which the vast majority of sexually active adults now have) is to turn a blind eye to the circumstances he was in from his own very early years. I see it as more of a societal and sociological responsibility, if anything, than a personal responsibility and view that brutal legacy of slavery as one of many heart-rending tragedies in the book. I also agree with E. Jacobs that it's is a very slippery slope to be assigning blame to anyone for HPV since if you've had more than one lover or if your lover's had more than one lover, there's a good chance you've have some variant of HPV yourself.
Depends on the ten-year-old girl! Unless she is prodigiously intelligent and worldly wise, however, much if not most of it would be unintelligible and bound to lose her interest. I think smart, mature teens would get it, though.
While it sounds like a simple question to answer it's really not. Deborah is the powerful and central character in the story and as time progresses her feelings change significantly for a variety of reasons. One would have to read the book themselves to glean the meaning of the question.
I would recommend The Emperor of All Maladies - A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee. It is quite long - close to 600 pages if you include pages of notes, indexes, acknowledgments, and so on, but I couldn't put it down.
Excellent question on the contamination issue! It does make you wonder about other 'medical breakthroughs' that may be less than perfect due to the contamination of the HeLa cells into some of the thousands of other experiments done.
I thought this was an exceptionally good read.