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February 25, 2012

February Book Club: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

In January, with only 4 of our regular book club members showing for the meeting we took the liberty of choosing the book without everyone else...
You snooze, you loose.
So at first we chose The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides.
It was chosen when we didn't have internet access or a full list of suggested books. 
SIL, who is our admin/group leader, went home to read an excerpt and reviews. After she did she quickly emailed us and let us know that the book wasn't getting the best reviews. It was described as slow, pointless and dark.
We changed our pick. 

Overview from Barnes and Noble
Henrietta Lacks, a poor Southern tobacco farmer, was buried in an unmarked grave sixty years ago. Yet her cells - taken without her knowledge - became one of the most important tools in medical research. Known to science as HeLa, the first "immortal" human cells grown in culture are still alive today, and have been bought and sold by the millions. Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey from the "colored" ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to East Baltimore today, where Henrietta's family struggles with her legacy.

My Opinion
This was a really great book! I mean the topic is tragic and the social and ethical issues are truly insane... But to learn so much about a woman who unknowingly changed our entire world is just really great. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an informed, and intelligent read. 
Things to be prepared for:
The chapters jump from present to past, lab to home very frequently. It's a little tedious in the beginning, but it wouldn't have made sense any other way. 
You will become invested in the story. You will feel personally connected to the Lacks family.
You will start to question and think about the morals of the medical and science fields. 
You will want to start reading all of those papers that your handed to sign in doctor's offices.

Read it. 
I don't care if you absolutely hates science in school (like me)
I don't care what your gender is or your socioeconomical background is...
Read this book.
You won't be sorry. 

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