Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"'s Reviews > The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
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Sep 04, 10

bookshelves: history, science, nonfiction, four-star-nonfiction
Read in September, 2010

4.5 stars

There's something here for everyone. Some people comment on the human interest aspect of the story with regard to the Lacks family. Other people mention the cell science. For me, the most interesting thing was the history of informed consent, or the "Lacks" thereof. (Go ahead and laugh now at my clever wordplay. You know you want to.)
It's hard to believe the bizarre ways people's bodies were used for medical research, with or without their consent. Even when they did give consent, they did so without being told exactly what would be done to their bodies. Too often the people used for the studies were the poor, the uneducated, and prison inmates.
Back in the forties and fifties,
"Many scientists believed that since patients were treated for free in the public wards, it was fair to use them as research subjects as a form of payment."
YIKES! That's not just unethical, it's abominable.

Rebecca Skloot's dedication to the research and writing of this story is remarkable. She spent pretty much the entire decade of her twenties in pursuit of the truth about Henrietta Lacks and her "immortal" cells. My only reason for not awarding the full five stars is that I thought the book could have used one more ruthless edit before final printing.

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Comments (showing 1-6)




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message 6: by Jill (new) - added it

Jill She's coming to Chicago to speak in two months. Do let me know how you like it!


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Jill wrote: "She's coming to Chicago to speak in two months. Do let me know how you like it!"

Jill, I think it would be interesting to see her in person. She must have a winning personality, as she was able to penetrate the stubbornness of the Lacks family and get them to open up.


message 4: by Mikki (new)

Mikki "Lacks"...leave it you! :) I had forgotten all about this book until Anne recently gave it positive marks. I trust you two and will try to get to it soon.

I wonder if Jill ever made it to the appearance?


message 3: by Jeanette (last edited Aug 30, 2013 11:09PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Mikki wrote: ""Lacks"...leave it you! :) I had forgotten all about this book until Anne recently gave it positive marks. I trust you two and will try to get to it soon.

I wonder if Jill ever made it to the a..."


This is one you'll want to work through pretty slowly if you own a copy. It's very interesting at times, but not riveting. Anne mentioned that the stuff about the various family members was too much, and I have to agree. But the author developed an attachment to the family, so I can understand why she gave it so much coverage.


message 2: by Jill (new) - added it

Jill Mikki, I DID make it to the appearance. Rebecca Skoot is a compelling speaker and her attachment to the family shines through. She seems quite passionate about the issues. Despite that, I have to judge a book by its literary merits only (otherwise, all books against, say, genocide would be automatic 5-stars). And I didn't think it was all that riveting either.


message 1: by Mikki (new)

Mikki Jill wrote: "Mikki, I DID make it to the appearance."

Oh, that's great to hear! I agree with you in that a rating cannot be swayed by subject matter which can prove difficult at times.

Forgive me for the late response, Jill, it seems I'm sometimes too quick when it comes to deleting comment notices before reading them. :)


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