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Starred Review. Science journalist Skloot makes a remarkable debut with this multilayered story about faith, science, journalism, and grace. It is also a tale of medical wonders and medical arrogance, racism, poverty and the bond that grows, sometimes painfully, between two very different women—Skloot and Deborah Lacks—sharing an obsession to learn about Deborah's mother, Henrietta, and her magical, immortal cells. Henrietta Lacks was a 31-year-old black mother of five in Baltimore when she died of cervical cancer in 1951. Without her knowledge, doctors treating her at Johns Hopkins took tissue samples from her cervix for research. They spawned the first viable, indeed miraculously productive, cell line—known as HeLa. These cells have aided in medical discoveries from the polio vaccine to AIDS treatments. What Skloot so poignantly portrays is the devastating impact Henrietta's death and the eventual importance of her cells had on her husband and children. Skloot's portraits of Deborah, her father and brothers are so vibrant and immediate they recall Adrian Nicole LeBlanc's Random Family. Writing in plain, clear prose, Skloot avoids melodrama and makes no judgments. Letting people and events speak for themselves, Skloot tells a rich, resonant tale of modern science, the wonders it can perform and how easily it can exploit society's most vulnerable people. (Feb.) 
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Books, Cafe Libri, Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks

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ISBN-10:  1400052173
ISBN-13:  978-1400052172
Author:  Rebecca Skloot
Genre:  History, Health, Mind & Body, Science
Publisher:  Crown
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review by . July 18, 2013
The way Skloot blends all three of these elements in this account are what makes this an immensely readable account.  The bare facts of the science, while interesting, are not news, but Skloot does a good job putting the bare facts in layman's terms without seeming to talk down to us.  She presents the story in a way that unfolds like a mystery--why is Henrietta Lacks immortal, and why and how did her family not know it.  And as Skloot unfolds the story she lets herself into the …
review by . February 17, 2011
   The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is the story of the medical and scientific progress brought about with the help of the longest-surviving cell line in history; it's also the story of the woman who unknowingly contributed those cells to research, and the effects of that contribution on the woman's family      Rebecca Skloot spent years with the story of Henrietta Lacks, who died prematurely of an advanced case pf metastasized cervical cancer - a case that …
Quick Tip by . August 09, 2010
Read it! I'm serious. Stop reading this, go. Now! Shoo!
review by . April 04, 2010
One of the things that I remember about my childhood in the 1950s and 60s was how little could be done for family members who became ill. The word "cancer: was barely spoken. Heart disease was mentioned, but only as a reason that someone was permanently disabled. Doctors, who could do so much less than than can today, were venerated far more than they are today.     Henrietta Lacks was a young African American woman who listened to her doctors and didn't question. In that she …
review by . February 18, 2010
As another reviewer noted, I worked with HeLa cells in the late 70s and people in the lab knew at least the donor's name at that time, so when I saw this book appear on the market, I jumped to learn the rest of the story.    That, you'll learn. As noted, some parts were more interesting than others, and the book reads a little faster if you can skim. Life can get really hard when your mother dies young. Cancer treatment is bad enough now. It was brutal then.    I …
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