My rating: 3 of 5 stars
When I picked up the book, I couldn’t wait to read it. The premise was fascinating, and one that I’d never heard (which is just astounding considering the historical significance). I was thus disappointed a bit by the uneven nature of the book.
At its best, the book is a riveting read about the science behind Henrietta Lacks’ cells and cancer research. I’m a sucker for a good piece of science writing, and this was that. There’s some heady science-based discussion, which touches on the ethical implications of research.
Unfortunately, the narrative (at times) suffers from the dearth of historical information about Henrietta Lacks, which is the hook to the entire book. Instead of learning about Lacks, the narrative oftentimes skips into the author searching for information. This leads to some uncomfortable scenes in which she seems to “discover” poverty.
Still, the weight of the topic carries the narrative when it falls, and it’s a topic that everyone should be discussing.