Sunday, June 06, 2010

Sunday Review

I read. I read, alot. When I was little, my favorite summer days were spent in the backyard in the hammock under the tree reading. Ah, what I wouldn't give for a hammock right now.

Recently, I saw this book at Target. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. I decided to check the local library and see if they had it. Sure enough, they did (my library is fantastic), and I placed a hold for it. It came in last week and I sat down and read. Life got in the way and unfortunately I had to put it down, and pick it up, and put it down again, BUT I could have easily devoured it in one sitting.

Having come from a medical profession, I enjoy science, and combined with history, it seemed like the perfect way to kick off my summer reading. I assumed it would be dry, very dry, and technical, but not so. It was wonderfully written and meticulously researched. The book alternates between the life of Henrietta and the technical aspect of her "contribution" (which was done without her consent or knowledge so clearly that is the wrong term) to medical science. Her cells, taken from her when she was undergoing cancer treatments, have circled the globe, and have played a part in many of the current vaccines, drugs and treatments that we have today. They have been in space and blown up in an atom bomb. If you have ever taken a college biology class, chances are you have seen the HeLa cells, or at the very least read about them. But, have you ever thought about where the cells came from? Who was this person and what was their life like??? This book not only explores her extraordinary life, but the lives of her children and the immortal life of her cells.

In short, because I don't want to spoil it for anyone, I LOVED IT. It sparked outrage, tears, laughter, and many thoughts about the ethics and morals of medicine. I am definitely going to buy a copy of it for my "favorites" book shelf, and it is not too often I say that. Surely this book will stay with me for a long, long time.

Do you have any books that have left an impression on you?

PS. And yes, it is going to be a movie. Alan Ball and Oprah have teamed up. This might be good!

3 comments:

Melanie said...

This is one of the most fascinating nonfiction books I have ever read. It's so fantastical that it reads like fiction, then you remember that it all really happened and it makes you sorta sad.

Kate said...

Hi Melanie,

I could not agree more! Wasn't it a great book??? What are you reading now?

~K

Melanie said...

I just finished up the last book in the Millennium series. (And just once I would like to be able to spell that word correct without spell check. Grrr.) It was pretty damn good.