Part of my ongoing attempt to read at least a few of the books that are popular at any given time. This book has been on both the Globe and Mail and New York Times Bestsellers lists for much of the past year. And I don't know if it's a classic, but it was a good read.
does a fairly good job of juggling what is really two stories - the
story of the cells cultured from Henrietta Lacks' cervical cancer
(without her permission, at a time when permission was rarely asked),
and the story of the children Henrietta Lacks left behind, and their
struggles consistently being denied information about what those cells
were and what was being done with them. The two stories intertwine
around the theme of poor people, particularly, in this case, poor black
people, and their interactions with a medical system that they have
every reason to be deeply suspicious of.
It's also a tale of
medical ethics, and how much and how little has changed in regards to
tissue samples and patients' rights to donate, know what has happened
to, and to make money from, if money is being made, parts of their body
left behind in doctors' offices.
I don't know if it's one that
will hold up to a reread, or if I feel the need to reread it, but for a
book that's popular these days, it's quite good.