Non-Fiction Book Club! The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, Thursday, June 2, 2011 @ 6:30PM
The Pollard’s Non-Fiction Book Club is officially cooking with gas. Last month we had a smaller group, but no less spirited discussion of Jill Lepore’s A is for American: Letters and Other Characters in the Newly United States. And now we turn our sights to June’s selection: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. The subject of this book first came to my attention last year during a RadioLab podcast episode on Famous Tumors. Ms. Skloot’s critically acclaimed bestseller tells the story of Henrietta Lacks and her immortal HeLa cells. Ms. Lacks died in 1951 from cervical cancer, and 60 years later cells from her tumor are still reproducing in petri-dishes around the world. They’ve been on the moon, and were used to test the effect of cells during a nuclear explosion. If you’ve ever had a flu shot or a vaccine, you may have gotten some yourself. The most compelling part of this book however, is the fact that Ms. Lack’s family only found out that science was using Henrietta’s cells 20 years after her death. Ms. Skloot tells a surreal story of the family coming to terms science’s use of their mother’s cells, the ethical issues surrounding the use of human tissue in research, and the human story of the woman behind the famous HeLa cells. Read up and come down. Join the discussion, Thursday, June 2nd @ 6:30 in the Ground Floor Community Room. Free and open to the public. Snacks served.