Each year my New Year’s Resolution is the same: be a better version of me. I, of course, break down my resolution into more specific goals. One of my resolutions always includes a reading requirement. Since having children, I have failed to meet the reading requirements I have set for myself. Shocking right?! Unless, of course you include the countless Marketing, Business Law and Financial Accounting papers I have read over the last year in pursuit of my MBA. It’s a stretch, I know. Too bad my celebrity magazines don’t count towards my resolution goal either. I would easily meet the reading requirement for my lifetime if I were to include US Weekly and OK. Unfortunately and fortunately for me, neither my MBA readings nor my brainless gossip mags count. So, in a last-ditch effort to cram in another book before my 2010 resolution comes to a close, I have ordered The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks written by Rebecca Skloot. This book happens to be number 1 on Amazon’s top 100 Books of 2010.
Check out the review below and join me in making this book an Arm Candy Confessions must read! Be sure and let me know if you plan to read it. It’s probably pretty apparent by now, that I love to talk about pretty much everything–books included.
Amazon Exclusive: Jad Abumrad Reviews The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Jad Abumrad is host and creator of the public radio hit Radiolab, now in its seventh season and reaching over a million people monthly. Radiolab combines cutting-edge production with a philosophical approach to big ideas in science and beyond, and an inventive method of storytelling. Abumrad has won numerous awards, including a National Headliner Award in Radio and an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science Journalism Award. Read his exclusive Amazon guest review of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks:
Honestly, I can’t imagine a better tale.
A detective story that’s at once mythically large and painfully intimate.
Just the simple facts are hard to believe: that in 1951, a poor black woman named Henrietta Lacks dies of cervical cancer, but pieces of the tumor that killed her–taken without her knowledge or consent–live on, first in one lab, then in hundreds, then thousands, then in giant factories churning out polio vaccines, then aboard rocket ships launched into space. The cells from this one tumor would spawn a multi-billion dollar industry and become a foundation of modern science–leading to breakthroughs in gene mapping, cloning and fertility and helping to discover how viruses work and how cancer develops (among a million other things). All of which is to say: the science end of this story is enough to blow one’s mind right out of one’s face.
But what’s truly remarkable about Rebecca Skloot‘s book is that we also get the rest of the story, the part that could have easily remained hidden had she not spent ten years unearthing it: Who was Henrietta Lacks? How did she live? How she did die? Did her family know that she’d become, in some sense, immortal, and how did that affect them? These are crucial questions, because science should never forget the people who gave it life. And so, what unfolds is not only a reporting tour de force but also a very entertaining account of Henrietta, her ancestors, her cells and the scientists who grew them.
The book ultimately channels its journey of discovery though Henrietta’s youngest daughter, Deborah, who never knew her mother, and who dreamt of one day being a scientist.
As Deborah Lacks and Skloot search for answers, we’re bounced effortlessly from the tiny tobacco-farming Virginia hamlet of Henrietta’s childhood to modern-day Baltimore, where Henrietta’s family remains. Along the way, a series of unforgettable juxtapositions: cell culturing bumps into faith healings, cutting edge medicine collides with the dark truth that Henrietta’s family can’t afford the health insurance to care for diseases their mother’s cells have helped to cure.
Rebecca Skloot tells the story with great sensitivity, urgency and, in the end, damn fine writing. I highly recommend this book. –Jad Abumrad
Sounds good right!? Order it, borrow it, Kindle it…….just get it!