Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Written by: Rebecca Skloot

First line: There's a photo on my wall of a woman I've never met, its left corner torn and patched together with tape.

Why you should read this book: It's mind-bogglingly good, an interdisciplinary work that melds science, psychology, history, ethics, journalism and a bunch of other guiding principles and somehow reads like a thriller, a page-turning story that makes you desperate to find out what happens to a wide cast of characters. Henrietta Lacks, a poor, uneducated black woman with 5 children, died of a really brutal form of cancer, cells of which were harvested from her body without her consent, and subsequently proved to be immortal and became the basis of most research in eradicating human disease. Many scientific advances were made based on her tissue, and many people got rich off it; meanwhile, Lacks's five motherless children suffered without health insurance or knowledge of what had really happened until the author set out to finally tell Henrietta's story. 

Why you shouldn't read this book: You don't believe in consent.

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