Jun 01, 10
Read from May 05 to 15, 2010
This book is so great on multiple levels but here's two:
Level 1: It's just a fascinating story. Period. The birth of today's multi-billion (trillion?) bio-tech industry started with a few immortal cells that came from the cervix of one poor black woman by the name of Henrietta Lacks. Her family didn't know her cells were taken for decades. They never received a dime of all the money made off of them. As in, to this day. And that's a damn shame.
Level 2: Rebecca Skloot is my journalistic hero. Having once been a journalist, I can recall the handful of times I worked on a story that I felt truly mattered. How I would spend but a few hours with the people I'd profile but how much work (observing, taking notes, research, etc.) was caught up in just doing that little bit. Rebecca is someone who spent YEARS working on this book. An idea that caught her attention at 16 (when she first learned about HeLa cells), followed her through college and carried her on as she began work on the novel with no advance (just her student loans and credit cards to get her by). The courage and tenacity it took to get this family behind her and then to stick with them as sources, coax them into trusting her, put up with their behavior (Henrietta's daughter Deborah ... wow, I couldn't imagine sticking with her..at one point in the book, she has Rebecca up against the wall) through publication of this book? Unbelievable.
It's for these reasons alone that I highly recommend this one. By far one of the best non-fiction books I've read by an author for whom I have the utmost respect and admiration.