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Amid the crafting and baking, I finished the first book of my New Year’s resolution this afternoon. My dad recommended it after reading it on his Kindle, knowing that I like reading medical nonfiction. I put it on my list of books to get, and finally picked up a copy. I purchased it in September as a present to myself after a very difficult day, and it sat on a shelf until New Year’s day.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010) by Rebecca Skloot is the true story of the first successful line of cultured immortal human cells interwoven with the story of her and her family’s lives. Henrietta Lacks’ cells resulted in an incredible number of advances in medicine, but her family is unable to afford medical care. They did not even know that her cells were taken until 20 years later. The book touches on issues of medical ethics, patient rights, racism, genetics, and poverty.

From what I had heard about the book, I was expecting the book to be troubling, but the array of ethical questions it posed surprised me. The author does a nice job balancing the different threads and timeframes in the book, and the parts on scientific research and medical developments are well explained without being overly technical or vocabulary-dense. I enjoyed reading the book, and will be thinking about the issues that it made me aware of for quite some time.

One book down, 51 more to go. Next up will be something completely different.

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