The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Rebecca Skloot (@RebeccaSkloot)
I’d like to say that I hate reading unless it’s a series by K.A. Applegate or JK Rowling. It took my mother instituting mandatory-reading clause to get me to read anything else. So when she set The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in front of me and said with exclamation, “You have to read this.” I was like “eh” as she continued on singing its praises. I mean, her saying that my sister said it was like my mom and her siblings definitely wasn’t a selling point for me. But when my aunt actually sang its praises I thought Ok maybe I’ll like it.
And I did.
I thought it was a very well-written book. I’m not good at summations, but I’ll try my best.
It’s essentially about Henrietta Lacks, a woman whose supernatural cancerous cells become famous after changing the science and medicine world and many lives tremendously. The catch: her family has no idea why or how she died nor can they afford to pay for health insurance. Given the fact that there was only word-of-mouth evidence about Henrietta and a few photographs, the book is more about the impact of her cells and the affect of her death on her family. It also mentions the inhumane experiments done on African-Americans pre-Civil Rights Movement (i.e. the infamous syphilis studies, etc.). It held my interest throughout but it particularly captivation towards the end when we found out why Henrietta died and what happened to Elsie Lacks, Henrietta’s eldest daughter. The ending had the major heart lift that sealed the deal on memorability for me.
I recommend it. Oprah does too. She’s also making a movie about it with Alan Ball.
What’s interesting is that I think it made a book reader out of me. I feel like reading everything. Eff.