Friday Morning Bookclub

May 18, 2011

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: A Review By Bonnie

Filed under: Book Discussions,The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks — susanbright @ 4:31 pm

  Last week our book club met to discuss The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. We had a large turnout and a wonderful discussion. Everyone found the book to be a fascinating read with much to talk about! The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is an excellent choice for a Book Club!

Here is a short review by Bonnie:

We had a very diverse and educational discussion about the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.
This was the story of a black woman, Henrietta, who suffered from a malignant type of cervical cancer which was further complicated by the disease of Syphilis that she contracted from her husband Day.
 Henrietta and Day were uneducated farmers raising a family when she became ill with a fast growing form of cancer. During her treatments of skin damaging radiation and surgery, some of her cells were harvested and used in testing without her or her families’ knowledge or permission. These cells, which are still widely used today, have helped develop important medical advances including the polio vaccine, chemotherapy, gene mapping and in vitro therapy. Unfortunately her descendants who suffered from diabetes and prostate cancer did not get to receive the benefits of her contributions and had limited access to medical care or health insurance for themselves.
 We were shocked to learn how black patients were treated in the 1950’s and about their fear of hospitals.  We discussed the legal and moral issues of taking tissues from patients and debated whether the patient’s family should be compensated when these samples are taken and then sold to researchers. We did not come up with a conclusion on this so the debate will go on!



  1. Looks like you just gave me the perfect suggestion for our Book Clubs Black History month book for next year.
    We put together our list at our June meeting.
    Thanks FMB!
    Mona – Sarah’s friend from St Croix

    Comment by Mona — May 18, 2011 @ 5:00 pm | Reply

    • Hi Mona,The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is the perfect book for Black History Month! It is a fascinating story and a great discussion book.

      Comment by susanbright — May 18, 2011 @ 5:33 pm | Reply

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