Another true story from someone who is neither famous nor a player on the world stage, nor the architect of some planet--changing accomplishment. However she DID go through hell and back, and not only survived but thrived, and lived to tell about it.
This woman has my unconditional admiration. The story has her pushing through obstacle after obstacle, jumping (metaphorically) through hoops and all the while never losing her perspective and sense of humor. Several times I laughed out loud while walking the bike path - other walkers, cyclists, runners must have thought I was nuts.
The gauntlet was thrown down many many times by her doctors and the rest of the medical establishment and she triumphed over that one too - hilariously naming all the characters and courageously ignoring their "advice" (in quotes for this) in order to follow her own path as an overachiever in the best way possible.
The narration was perfect. Joyce Bean's tone walked that fine line between sarcasm and honest emotion, and her nuanced characterization of Julia's impaired but gradually improving speech abilities could not have worked out better.
One more thing, if you've come this far in this review - the book uses the second person throughout, a technique that I am starting to love. Like the airplane pilot in "The Night Strangers" whose story is always a "you" story, 2nd person, this technique makes the narrative sound like an instruction manual, in a good way. After all, books can be, amongst so many other things, instruction manuals for life.
5 stars all around!
I originally bypassed this book, pre-judging it as more of the same from various mental health professionals and experts in neuroscience. Then I heard it referenced in an unrelated podcast about the game of Blackjack and my interest was piqued.
Some of the examples and case studies have frequently appeared in non-fiction and fiction alike, but this book makes use of plenty of other newer and more unusual (at least to me) examples, stories and experiences, and is quite salient on how habit works. I wasn't as interested in the dynamics of habit in groups and I almost put the book down and gave it a rest at the beginning of that section. I kept with it, though and was "hooked by habit" once again.
Can't add more to what others have said, though agreed, it would have been helpful to have had access to the user guide mentioned by another reviewer. I was not expecting a "how to" book on the methods of change in personal and professional life, so I was not disappointed, and actually I prefer a macro lens in books of this genre, and appreciated the aerial view of the dynamics of change, preferring it to a book on how habits develop and affect the individual in general and me personally. But the latter does get covered anyway and it's a bonus.
The narration is perfect and I am glad the author was not selected for this reading. That statement is not necessarily applicable to this book and this author as I have never heard his speaking voice but generally, self-narration frequently doesn't work all that well - just personal taste here - and I prefer a neutral voice, a reading by someone who is not necessarily a stakeholder in the book and whose interpretation can be more objective.
I'm sure I'll give this one another read at some point.
This is a necessary book - aside from informing us about what seems today like the the dark ages of cancer research and the reported unfair treatment of minorities by the medical community in the era of Henrietta Lacks, it's time we all became more enlightened as to the fate of our body products once we part with them in a doctor's office, lab or hospital. This book raises important issues as to the space required for storage of all discarded tissue, which is unlike printed material that can be converted to digital format.
As an historical novel there are bound to be characters that are not "likable" nor relatable in the usual fictional sense. This family was troubled in many ways, in addition to the implied racial implications, the possible malpractice issues regarding the HeLa cells, and losing any financial stake in the success of the HeLa cell line. The family came to Baltimore to be part of the then growing steel industry. They were originally from a bare bones town in Virginia, having farmed their own tobacco crops after indirectly inheriting the property after being emancipated from slave status. There were some hard workers amongst the marginal characters, but basically this was a hard-strapping family who had to make do in order to survive. And several of them fell by the wayside to crime and mental dysfunction.
The book is well-written, even with the frequent disjunctions in time periods. It can be difficult to follow the genealogy and plethora of major and minor characters, and the myriad mentions of various studies. But all that is mere technicality.
The book accomplishes its goal of promoting proper documentation of, and credit for - financial or otherwise - biological tissues that are saved and used for research. It raise the question of ownership of our own tissues, and whether or not we have proprietary rights to our own bodies, in situ or in vitro.