I found this fifth installment of L'Engle's Time Quintet to be disappointingly on par with A Swiftly Tilting Planet (see my review). An Acceptable Tim...moreI found this fifth installment of L'Engle's Time Quintet to be disappointingly on par with A Swiftly Tilting Planet (see my review). An Acceptable Time skips ahead a generation to follow Polly O'Keefe (the daughter of Meg Murry and Calvin O'Keefe, the protagonists of A Wrinkle in Time) on a visit to her grandparents. She and her friend Zachary Gray stumble unwittingly into the past and find themselves in the midst of growing tensions between two Native American tribes about an ongoing drought and the merits of blood sacrifice.
For me, the beginning of the book--before Polly and Zachary get stuck in the past--takes way too long and is riddled with lengthy scenes of exposition through dialogue where the adults discuss theories of time and worry unnecessarily about Polly's safety. I found Mr. and Mrs. Murry's (Polly's grandparents') old aged closed-mindedness and penchant for worry rather unbelievable when they had been (at least to my recollection) so progressively minded in previous books. L'Engle was a bit too heavy-handed with the fact that Zachary (view spoiler)[was only a romantic red herring and would end up causing trouble. I would have liked to like him first, feel some sympathy toward him, before he turned bad (hide spoiler)]. I did enjoy the Celtic warrior Tav and his dynamic relationship with Polly, (view spoiler)[particularly his conflicting desires to be with her and to sacrifice her to the gods in exchange for rain (hide spoiler)]. That was probably the most interesting part of the book.
On the whole, An Acceptable Time does not at all make me want to read the others in the O'Keefe Family series, which also feature Polly and of which An Acceptable Time is I guess considered the fourth.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This is an amazing read. Winner of numerous awards and top book lists, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks masterfully weaves three stories in one: t...moreThis is an amazing read. Winner of numerous awards and top book lists, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks masterfully weaves three stories in one: that of HeLa cells, the first cells grown successfully and indefinitely in a lab environment; that of Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman and the originator of the cervical cancer cells that gave birth to HeLa, and the family she left behind; and that of Rebecca Skloot and her journey to discover the woman behind the cells and the family behind the woman.
HeLa is one of if not the most important scientific breakthroughs of modern medicine. HeLa's commercialization gave life to a billion dollar industry, while Henrietta's family couldn't even afford proper healthcare. Her husband and children didn't even know about Henrietta's immortal cells for twenty years. And, when they did find out, they still didn't know what it meant -- were clones of their mother really walking around London? Had it hurt when parts of her were blown up in an atomic bomb?
Through this biography of Henrietta and her cells, Immortal Life sheds light on the gradual progress of bioethics. (Besides the cancer treatment of Henrietta's day, the gross ethical misconduct of the medical research industry, particularly when it came to racial minorities, is one of the most shocking elements of the book.) But where to strike the balance? If one pioneering scientist hadn't taken Henrietta's amazing cells (without consent), we probably would not now have the polio or HPV vaccines, we would not know the number of chromosomes in a DNA strand, and our understanding of genetics and genetic diseases would be far far behind where it is today. (less)
Very illuminating on the issue of chemical use in our every day lives, and our government/the private sector's ignorance about their poisonous nature...moreVery illuminating on the issue of chemical use in our every day lives, and our government/the private sector's ignorance about their poisonous nature or unwillingness to protect the public from it.(less)