Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. It had the right mix of biographical stories, science facts, and moral questions to consider. Although non-fiction, it reads like a novel and was very engaging. Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer in the 1950s. At the time of her death, the doctors at Johns Hopkins took samples of her cells and were able to successfully grow and study them in the laboratory. Her cells have been vital in medical research throughout the years, and are still growing in labs today.

I found myself thinking about the Lacks family and medical research throughout the day as I was reading the book. I felt Rebecca Skloot did weave herself and her quest to research the Lacks family a bit much into the narrative, but her perspective added insights into the family and how they felt about Johns Hopkins, reporters, and the what happened to Henrietta's cells.

This would be a great book for a book club discussion, with the potential for rich dialogue regarding the potential moral repercussions and long-term advantages to medical research in general and specifically around cell research. Highly recommended.

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