Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
This story is much more than a history of a person’s life. Rebecca Skloot skewers choices of the medical profession with the story of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”. Skloot tells Henrietta Lacks’ history through fascinating interludes with Lacks’ family members that are bruised and battered by the story’s disclosures; none more than Debra Lacks Pullum that dies just before publication.
The medical and legal issues raised in this book are a must know subject for any conscience bound person. Skloot’s history of the Lacks’ family pumps life into an ugly story of human arrogance.
Henrietta is a young black mother of 5 children in the 1950s. She dies of cervical cancer at the age of 31, leaving her children to a life of poverty in a poor area of Baltimore, Maryland.
The cervical cancer that took Henrietta’s life, by luck and circumstance, became the source of an immortal cancer cell that could reproduce itself without apparent end. This cancer cell’s ability to reproduce became the basis for medical research that continues to this day as a medium for medical testing of everything from polio to the common cold. Cultures of these cancer cells have been delivered to medical facilities all over the world.Costs for a vile of the cells exceed $200 to as much as $10,000 per specimen.
By the end of Skloot’s book, a listener knows the Lacks family, the reality of poverty, the consequence of neglect and misunderstanding, and the unfairness of life. The Lacks family received no recognition, let alone compensation, for the use of Henrietta Lacks HeLa cells. The Lacks family story exposes a dark side of medical research and human experimentation.
Long car rides have rekindled my love for 'reading' I like a good history book, thriller and - most importantly - zombie fiction.
Absolutely. My wife got me to read it after she finished it in paperback. I was skeptical at first but the story really drew me in. You feel connected to the Lacks family and all that they've endured. The scientific/medical ethics exploration is very interesting as well.
There are some many memorable moments in this book. One powerful moment was when Deborah Lacks discovers the history of her sister Elsie. So many other good ones too!
This book is more of historical recounting than character fiction. That being said, discovering Deborah Lacks was probably the best part of the story, character-wise.
One comment about the narration. For some reason they only included Bahni a few times in the narration. It's unclear why this is the case and I'm not sure it added anything to the story. I would have preferred either more of Bahni for the Deborah speaking parts or removing her altogether. This strangeness was the only reason I didn't give it 5-stars.
HeLa, the woman who changed the world
Whether you're aware of Henrietta Lacks' cells or not, this book is essential reading to understand your medical rights (or lack thereof). It's thought-provoking and even disturbing, and a must-read.
It was a very interesting story, told in an entertaining way. However, I wouldn't recommend this book if you listen to books while running, or any other exercise. Wasn't so thrilling or "page-turning"
If you haven't already, READ THIS STORY!!! I don't know how everyone have not heard this story by now.
He-La cells should be as known about as much as Cancer itself. As a clinical research student learning about medical/drug trials and such, I am appalled that this topic has not been revealed to me in school.
Well, Thank you Ms. Skloot - You've helped this family's story see some true light. From the controversial manner in which the cells were obtain, the amazing breakthroughs in medical history due to these cells and even the heart wrenching ordeals each family member endured, the Legacy of Henrietta Lacks needed a stage & a spotlight and I hope the light continues to grow brighter for the Lack family.
Yes I would. This story is so fascinating and gives such a vivid portrayal of the characters and the situation faced by Henrietta and her family that I think I would likely pick up even more detail every time I read it.
The daughter was my favorite character because she was so relatable (to an extent). She faced some difficult circumstances; she wanted to know more about her mother (just like the reader); she was an emotional roller coaster to behold.
They did; the change in dialect and voice modulation made it easy to differentiate the characters, and there were many.
No, I think it was good to break it up. There's a lot of information to digest and a lot of anecdotes that made me really upset and I needed to take a break to get back in the right mindset.
A fascinating story about an incredible development in the law, in medicine, and in a family's life.
I started this book for an ethics course I am taking. I am grateful that this book was part of the syllabus because not only is it an entrapping story, with emotions varying from sadness and frustration to happiness brought to a woman I feel the world needs to know. The way the author tells the story from multiple perspectives is ingenious and I hope anyone hoping to enter any medical field reads this book to remember that in medicine humanity and science are one and you need equal parts of both.
I think this book was VASTLY interesting, especially as someone who is not a very science-y person. I am from Maryland, so this book had even more significance because a lot of it took place in Baltimore, MD. It's heartbreaking and also very eye opening about the early nature of medical test subjects and how these things actually happened.
Three words...: Powerful, eye opening and "explaining science for the lay person" which is not one word-- so sue me. :-)
I really liked the authors perspective in her meetings with the family and doctors-- it's a very uniquely narrated book.
The chapter in which they describe Henrietta's death at the hospital. Very powerful.
See above^^ and another part when one of the family members point out how important their mothers contribution was to science and medical fields and they said, "And yet for some reason, me and my family can't get health insurance".... whew. So upsetting.
This will really make you think about how science and medical advancements happen and whether or not they are done in a humanistic way.
I was required to read this and initially reluctant, but the book is well-written and fascinating. You simultaneously learn about the history of medicine and science, racism, the making of the book, and the lives of the children of a very important woman. I had no idea her cells have been involved in so many disparate parts of science and medicine. The book is particularly fascinating and horrifying from a bioethics perspective. We should never forget where we've come from. The performance is engaging. I felt like the author and Deborah were really speaking.