The Immortal Life

13 Sep

henrietta

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was an incredible follow-up book to Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. I am so glad I read Bryson’s book first, a book which David had told me to read pretty much the entire eight years I’ve known him. I recently discovered Immortal Life after listening to Bahni Turpin’s amazing narration of Yellow Crocus while searching for more of her books. Even though I wish Henrietta’s whole story was narrated by Bahni, she unfortunately only reads about two paragraphs of the entire thing. It was, instead, narrated by none other than Cassandra Campbell, who is a decent speaker but does so many books and never changes her voice, so it’s quite irritating to listen to her in every audiobook I download, apparently.

If I hadn’t just finished Bryson explaining how insanely miraculous it is that even just our cells are alive, let alone humans and the earth and the universe etc., I’m not sure I would have felt the same way about Rebecca Skloot’s book. But I did, and I was blown away by what HeLa cells have done for the world since 1952. Not only that, but what Henrietta and her family had to go through to even be able to “donate” the first line of immortal cells. It is hard for me to wrap my head around how the universe creates these situations, seemingly lucky and merely coincidental.

I really wanted to read this book for one of my two book clubs, but I eventually just couldn’t wait, not knowing when I’d be able to host again and get to pick the book everyone reads. Instead, I’ve told all my book-reading friends to read or listen to it, and gave a paper copy to my parents. I want to discuss this book with everyone I know.

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