Then a couple of weeks later, I'm with cousin Besi and cousin Patti. We're talking about Lacks, and Patti says what a good book it is. That did it. I was already convinced. But the 2nd high rec made it my next book. Was it as good as they said it was? Pretty much. A 3.25/4 is a darn good grade in my book.
Do you all know what this book is about? Let me quote the back cover:
Her name is Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells - taken without her knowledge in 1951 - became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta's cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can't afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew.
The most intriguing part of the book for me was how the author, a girl in her late 20s, convinced Henrietta's family to trust her. They had every reason to basically distrust anybody from the "establishment" after how they were treated by the medical community. And, yet, Rebecca was able to convince Deborah, Henrietta's daughter, to do just that.
The whole concept of the book is fascinating. But if I have any criticism, it's the same one I had with The Martian. The medical (vs. scientific) explanations are a little bit too detailed for me. It also took me a while to get into it. I made a note that said: "67 finally started to pick up." Once it did pick up, though, I was definitely engrossed in it. And the criticisms are pretty minor.
Just a little bit past the 1/2 mark, we learn about the rise of the white sheets used by the Ku Klux Klan. That was creepy. We also learned about Johns Hopkins, the founder of the namesake hospital. And how he came to start that hospital. There was a lot of interesting history spread throughout the book. Check out page 194, line 23. You will be stunned by the number of patents that were registered based on the HeLa cells. I was re-stunned when I saw the number again!
You know, it's interesting that I read this book dispassionately throughout - until the end. In the last 10 pages I cried twice, when I wasn't even close to waterworks prior to that. Obviously, I was emotionally connected even though I didn't realize it.
I would say that this is a story well worth reading.