Monday, August 17, 2015

Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks- by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book that I put off reading for a long time because even though it was [and to a large extent still is] a very popular science book it has a biology focus and so I stalled as long as I thought that I could. However, last summer the English teacher read it in the hopes of doing a collaborative project with the Biology teacher and I figured it was time that I give it a read. Having finished it in one weekend, I can say with sincerity that I regret having waited so long.
As a new author Rebecca Skloot is not as well polished as many of the other science authors I enjoy [[author:Sam Kean|3206446], Mary Roach, Dava Sobel, Neil deGrasse Tyson, etc.], but the story she chose to research and devote so much time to digging up as many details as possible was a gripping one that hooked me in. The ups-and-downs of the family and the lax education received in both rural and urban areas, especially among minorities, is a tragedy and makes it unsurprising that the family has come to not trust the outside world, science, or the medical profession. There is still a large uphill battle of overcoming injustices and restoring relationships.
Also, without getting too political, this book was written before Obamacare. One point that was continuously made was how much Henrietta Lacks's stolen (or at least improperly donated) cells, HeLa, have helped the medical profession and yet her descendants see no profit and struggle to get and afford medical insurance. For those who are against Obamacare because it subverts capitalist economics, a real serious look is needed at who benefits from capitalism and who is left behind.
Unfortunately, because of a non-graphic rape scene it was decided to not have sophomores read this book. This confuses me a little bit since we have freshmen read about a fictional rape in (view spoiler). I love the benefits that cross-curricular activities bring to students and I wish it could be more easily facilitated, but that is a rant for another time.

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