Recently borrowed from my library…


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2010:
From a single, abbreviated life grew a seemingly immortal line of cells
that made some of the most crucial innovations in modern science
possible. And from that same life, and those cells, Rebecca Skloot has
fashioned in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks a
fascinating and moving story of medicine and family, of how life is
sustained in laboratories and in memory. Henrietta Lacks was a mother
of five in Baltimore, a poor African American migrant from the tobacco
farms of Virginia, who died from a cruelly aggressive cancer at the age
of 30 in 1951. A sample of her cancerous tissue, taken without her
knowledge or consent, as was the custom then, turned out to provide one
of the holy grails of mid-century biology: human cells that could
survive–even thrive–in the lab. Known as HeLa cells, their stunning
potency gave scientists a building block for countless breakthroughs,
beginning with the cure for polio. Meanwhile, Henrietta's family
continued to live in poverty and frequently poor health, and their
discovery decades later of her unknowing contribution–and her cells'
strange survival–left them full of pride, anger, and suspicion. For a
decade, Skloot doggedly but compassionately gathered the threads of
these stories, slowly gaining the trust of the family while helping
them learn the truth about Henrietta, and with their aid she tells a
rich and haunting story that asks the questions, Who owns our bodies?
And who carries our memories? —Tom Nissley

Note: I haven't read it yet, but it's in my hot little hands. It sounds great!

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