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Customer Review

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Curate's Egg?, 20 July 2011
This review is from: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Paperback)
This was an interesting, perplexing and frustrating book. I found it fascinating as it charted the path which Henrietta's cancer cells took, as they helped provide subject matter for science to practice upon, and gradually unlock a series of remedies for a variety of illnesses, over the generations. It was also interesting to follow the parallel track which revealed the level of racism apparent in the way the Lacks family were treated by the medical establishment, over the same period of time.
However, the perplexing and frustrating aspects involved the structure of Skloot's book, as she drags in a peripheral set of distant family relations, leaving a number of loose ends, and a generally unsatisfactory conclusion to the book. A greater editorial discipline would have helped here, and resulted in a briefer, more focussed book: too often Skloot wanders down family or scientific 'cul-de-sacs' to the detriment of the book's focus and pace.
Nevertheless, this remains an engrossing, if rather patchy, true story, of the impact which one poor black woman's involuntary contribution has made to the advancement of medical science throughout the world. 3.5 stars, but still recommended.
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