Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Review

Alright so I had to go to get my classes scheduled and they give me this bag full of stuff and inside is this book.

Of course my first impression was "this is gonna suck" cuz most school required books do so I was just gonna spark notes it so I could follow a discussion or whatever I'd need it for. I made the stupid mistake of opening the book and found this:

I won't lie, it pretty much ruined my whole day and put a damper on my vacation because now I was actually gonna have to read the book. Okay not really but I decided to read it. It only took me the whole trip down to Florida and it wasn't all that bad.

Basically, this book is written from the perspective of Rebecca Skloot (the author) who goes back and forth between telling about this black woman, Henrietta Lacks, and her own experiences while doing all this research. Henrietta Lacks Pleasant is this black woman who grew up in the time of slavery in Clover, West Virginia. She ends up marrying her cousin David Lacks and having 5 kids, Lawrence, Elsie, Sonny, Deborah, and Joe (Later changed to Zakariyya). The whole point of this book is that Henrietta goes to John Hopkins hospital with a case of cervical cancer (that eventually kills her) and when she got radiation treatments the doctors took a sample of her tumor without consent for research. 
These tumor cells end up being the cells scientists of that time were looking for because they grew at an extremely rapid rate and could be distributed and sold to labs all over the place to be tested on. Well, 25 years down the road, the family finds out that these cells are all over the world and being tested on and making all these advances in science without their permission while they aren't getting any of the profits. Of course, the family gets angry and Deborah starts trying to find out about her mother and older sister since they both died when she was really little. Rebecca gets in touch with Deborah and the two find out all these things about Henrietta's cells (HeLa cells) and the malpractices of doctors of that time both in John Hopkins and in the mental facility that Elsie is placed in at a young age. 

The book actually wasn't terrible. I can almost say I liked it. ALMOST. Not quite. Not the worst book I've had to read though. 

So there you have it. Now I just have that paper to write... on vacation... woohoo... 

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