Saturday, July 9, 2011
Rebecca Sklootk, THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS
There's been so much praise for this book that I don't feel I need to add any. It's a triple narrative: the story of a black woman with cervical cancer whose cells were taken without her knowledge by a (white) researcher at Johns Hopkins in the mid-1900s; the story of the field of cellular research, including its uneven development; and the story of a persistent journalist trying to write Lacks's story with erratic, emotional help from her (impoverished, dysfunctional) family. Told with compassion and in a straightforward voice, it's a page-turner. (Who knew the story of some cervical cells could be such a compelling read?) Plenty of complexity and many gray areas.