“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot
This is a book that everyone was talking about, and I missed out on. Picking it up at a thrift store a few weeks ago, I designated it my “road trip read”, and then promptly finished it the night before embarking on a 10 day road trip.
You probably haven’t heard the name Henrietta Lacks, but you may have heard of HeLa cells, which are used around the world for a variety of research purposes. They’ve been to space. Seriously. In “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” author Rebecca Skloot sets out to uncover the story of the dead African-American woman whose cells are still a multi-billion dollar, worldwide industry even as her surviving family members are living in near-poverty. Part mystery, part biography, and part study of the history of medical ethics, this book is dynamite and will hold you riveted until the final pages. It taught me more than a few things I didn’t know about the history of medicine and the seemingly-shady history of medical ethics, especially when the victims are poor, minority, or mentally challenged. This one’ll be on my bookcase for a long time.