Karatepop's Reviews > The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
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's review
Mar 03, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: science, own, favourites
Recommended for: all science students, readers of microhistory, everyone
Read from February 24 to March 03, 2012

Very interesting history of the HeLa cells. Unlike some people, I think the family is an important part of the story, even the grandkids; it's sad they lost Henrietta and that so many things seemed to spiral out of control afterward, but, at the same time, I'm glad for all the positive things that came from the research done using HeLa (like the polio vaccine). I'm content with the level of discussion on bioethics; I'm definitely going to do some more research about cell donation and gene patenting, which I think is flippin' ridiculous. I found the book engaging and easy to follow. I thought Deborah was, for the most part, charming - very curious and compassionate, possessing a level of understanding much of her family seems to lack.

As for the family...

I'm sad for Deborah that it took her dying for the men in her life to stop acting like children. Yes, it's very, very sad that your mother died while you were all so young, that you had no knowledge of what was happening with your mother's cells, and that you were badly abused by the woman who stepped in to "care" for you; however, that is hardly a reason to justify the absolutely disgusting way in which you treat people. It is not justifiable to say that's why you're the angriest person in the world, that's why you killed that man, that's why you smashed that bottle over a woman's back and pushed her through a window, that's why you commit armed robbery. At some point you have to act like an adult, which your mother was doing by the age of 13, and take some responsibility for your frigging actions. I'm glad they seem to have wised up a bit, but I'm sad that Deborah had to die in order for that to happen.
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02/25/2012 page 37
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