Friday, July 1, 2011

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

This was the first book our book club read. It was fascinating. It's about a young mother who died of incredibly aggressive cervical cancer, the cells they took from her without her knowledge, and the fallout that occurred when her family found out.

You've got to read the book. It's hard to believe that it's non-fiction, that this is a true story. I don't want to give too many things away, but there are some really good questions that must be asked after reading it, like how much of our bodies we "own" and what research subjects are entitled to if discoveries based on their specimens spawn a multi-billion dollar industry. The book also raises a ton of social questions, ranging from the issues of education to access to good medical care.

I just couldn't believe some of the things this family had been through. Consistent incest, abuse, neglect. Total lack of education. Crime sprees, violence, alcoholism. Strokes, heart attacks, diabetes. Bankruptcy. And yet, out of this mess comes one of the most impactful medical breakthroughs of the 20th century.

If you are into science, medicine, ethics, social issues, psychology, religion, or just people, you must read this book.


  1. I'm not too much of a reader, but you've definitely sparked my interest!

  2. Another friend loved this book so much that she mailed me a copy. It's on my fall reading list!