My Kindle love affair continues. I just finished The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot and was completely enthralled from page one. Here’s the link:
I don’t read a ton of nonfiction, but this had all the makings of a great novel, including some of the most vivid characters I’ve read lately. Henrietta Lacks was a black woman who died of cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins in 1951. Before she died, her doctor took a sample of her tumor, and the cells from that sample thrived in culture–something human cells hadn’t been able to do until that point. These cells opened a floodgate of discovery, factoring into the development of a polio vaccine as well as research about nuclear weapons and space travel. Today, HeLa cells, as they were dubbed, live on and are used in much of the biomedical research being conducted at a lab near you.
The real story, however, is in Henrietta’s past and the lives of the family members who survive her. Skloot uses Henrietta’s story as a tool to examine complex issues that still plague us 60 years after Henrietta’s death–informed consent, medical and research ethics, health disparities, access to care, race, and donors’ rights.
I flew through this book because I could not put it down, and I would recommend it to anyone. There’s seriously something here for every reader. Plus, you’ll learn a thing or two. I promise!
Don’t skip the foreword or the afterword. And let me know what you think!