Book Eleven: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot

Huh. I suppose I enjoyed this. Great premise, pretty good writing, science intermixed with ethics and a fascinating human story. And yet, on finishing it, something just didn't sit right with me. Maybe because the Afterward, which discusses bioethics and medical laws, contains the most compelling information? And that had me wondering why that wasn't up front and addressed in the bulk of the book. It just seemed like all the author's efforts to represent the Lacks family well after decades of mistreatment eclipsed her ability to tell the story with any kind of objectivity. And that made me realize that the main character in her story wasn't Henrietta or even her daughter Deborah, but Rebecca Skloot herself. Because the story she ends up telling is the story of how she decides to tell the story and how she tracks down the Lacks family and how she gets involved in their journey and how she travels with Deborah to do research for the book and find out more about her mother and sister and how she feels about the issues. Or maybe her point is that you can't tell a story like this and completely ignore the human element. Though which human element we are supposed to focus on seems a bit blurred. I'm not sure if I should let that bother me or get in the way of the issues it had me thinking about or the things I learned. And yet, it's there, a little fly buzzing in the back of my brain that just won't go away.


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