Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

This is my book club's current selection for the month. It is about a black woman from Baltimore named Henrietta Lacks. She dies in 1951 from cervical cancer. While being treated at John Hopkins doctors remove pieces of the tumor (without her consent or knowledge) to be sent off to their lab. Those cells became the first ones to survive and become duplicated. With the use of her cells doctors were able to find cures for polio, research how cancer works and many other medical breakthroughs. This book not only tells the story of the cells but also of Henrietta's family. While some doctors made money off of the cells (named HeLa), Henrietta's family was very poor and couldn't even afford life insurance. This book lays the ground work for the debate of whether or not doctors should be able to use your cells & tissue for medical research without your knowledge and if you do agree to let them use them should you be compensated for them. This book was good. The only thing that kept it from being excellent was it included a lot of medial discussion that I grew bored with. The story about Henrietta's family and their search to who their mother was and what happened to her was excellent though.


  1. sounds great! Just added it to my library list and there is quite a wait for it :)

  2. I read about this! I think I read about it in People. I need to put it on my PBS list, I think it sounds really interesting!

    By the way, Tempie, have you gotten a book from PBS that was totally NOT the one you ordered? I did. Yesterday... I was supposed to get this book.... "So you don't know much about History" and instead, I got... "Year's Best Fantasy".. weird.... I guess the guy mailed the wrong book?

  3. Yes, there was quite a wait for this book at my library. I think I was #80 or something crazy like that so I had to go out and buy it.

    Candace, I haven't received the wrong book yet but I could see how that could happen. That has been my fear when I send out to different people on the same day. I check the envelope like two or three times before I tape everything up. :) I did get a book the other day though that was wrapped in the "Press-and-Seal" wrap even though the directions say specifically not to use it. Luckily it didn't mess up the book, the back is a little sticky but I hope that is gone by the time I am done reading it so I can list it back in the system.


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