Friday, January 20, 2012

History, Science, Personal Triumph

~ Title: The Immortal Life of Herietta Lacks

~ Penned by: Rebecca Skloot

~ How did this piece find it's way to your nightstand?: Kevin (my bro) gave it to me for Christmas.  Thank You!

~ Number of pages: 328

~ Time passed from start to finish?: A week

~ Describe the cover: Orangish-red cells with a picture of Henrietta in the top corner

~ In what section of the bookstore would a reader find this?: Biography, Science, Bestsellers

~ Summary of the basic plot: A background on the what are probably the most important human cells in biomedical history.

~ Background information on the story/author:  Henrietta Lacks was a woman that died much too young of cervical cancer.  A researcher at Johns Hopkins developed a cell culture using her cancerous cells which led to countless discoveries which have saved millions, probably billions of lives.  The author is a science writer whose articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine; O, The Oprah Magazine; Columbia Journalism Review; and in numerous other publications.  She has taught non-fiction in the creative writing departments at the University of Memphis and the University of Pittsburgh, and science journalism at New York University.  This is her first book.

~ What did you think of it? (your general response, what you liked or didn't like, what you learned, anything else you want to share about it): Awesome!  This book combines science, history, family, and incredible writing.  It reads like a novel (though non-fiction) and I couldn't put it down.

~ Which page was your favorite? Share why: There's a page (somewhere) that Zakariyya receives a gift from his sister.  It moved me reading about a hardened, embittered individual softening, if only for a moment.

~ If the story was made into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters? Henrietta - Viola Davis, Rebecca - Erin Cummings, Deborah - Octavia Spencer

~ Share a quote that was worth reading twice. Explain why: one of many, this is a book that I could see myself reading a number of times: "In February 1954, Southam loaded a syringe with saline solution mixed with HeLa.  He slid the needle into the forearm of a woman...then pushed the plunger, injecting about five million of Henrietta's cells into her arm."  

In today's world where everything must receive informed consent, it is appalling to me that this ever happened.

~ Choose your rating:
          - Changed. My. Life.
          - I laughed, I cried, I want you to read it
          - A definite page-turner
          - Good to check out but don't spend the cash.
          - Why did I waste my weekend on this?
          - A disgrace to paper everywhere

Definitely one of the best books I've ever read, in this case the rating is more of a, "I laughed, I cried, You HAVE to read this"

~ Flip to page 2, 22, or 202. Share the 7th sentence on the page.  (Page 2) "I first learned about HeLa cells and the woman behind them in 1988, thirty-seven years after her death, when I was sixteen and sitting in a community college biology class." A book 22 years in the making is destined to be great.

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