Standalone Sunday

6493208The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Published by: Crown Publishing Group

Publication Date: February 2nd 2010

Genre: Non-Fiction/History/Science

Pages: 370 pages

 Standalone Sunday is a feature created by  Megan@BookSlayerReads where you select a book (not part of a series) that you loved & would recommend to others.

goodreads-synopsis-2

Henrietta Lacks, as HeLa, is known to present-day scientists for her cells from cervical cancer. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells were taken without her knowledge and still live decades after her death. Cells descended from her may weigh more than 50M metric tons.

HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks was buried in an unmarked grave.

The journey starts in the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s, her small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia — wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo. Today are stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells, East Baltimore children and grandchildren live in obscurity, see no profits, and feel violated. The dark history of experimentation on African Americans helped lead to the birth of bioethics, and legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.

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I highlighted the last bit of the Goodreads synopsis because I read it 3 times to myself & thought…that’s a scary thought, not having control of our own cells. This book was impactful, maddening, eye opening, and educational. So many of the vaccines and medicines we have today are because of Henrietta’s stolen cells. Just recently I stumbled across a EW article announcing the HBO movie that is being produced by Oprah. Oprah will also be starring in the movie playing the part of Henrietta’s daughter. I am really looking forward to seeing this movie get the attention it deserves. Henrietta may no longer be with us but her story & sacrifice has helped us all & continues to do good in the world.

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EW article
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Standalone Sunday

Happy Sunday Bookies!!! this is my 1st time participating in Megan@BookSlayerReads Standalone Sunday, a feature where you select a book (not part of a series) that you loved & would recommend to others. Super excited to be participating in Megan’s feature since i’ve been eyeing it for weeks & racking my brain for a good standalone I could post. It seems like lately series are the norm but I would love to get some more standalone’s read & this seems like a great source for motivation. On to this Sunday’s pick…

 

 

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Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem

 

Publisher: Vintage

Publication Date: October 24th 2000

Page Count: 311

Genre: Fiction/Mystery-Crime

 

 

 

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Lionel Essrog is Brooklyn’s very own self-appointed Human Freakshow, an orphan whose Tourettic impulses drive him to bark, count, and rip apart our language in startling and original ways. Together with three veterans of the St. Vincent’s Home for Boys, he works for small-time mobster Frank Minna’s limo service cum detective agency. Life without Frank Minna, the charismatic King of Brooklyn, would be unimaginable, so who cares if the tasks he sets them are, well, not exactly legal. But when Frank is fatally stabbed, one of Lionel’s colleagues lands in jail, the other two vie for his position, and the victim’s widow skips town. Lionel’s world is suddenly topsy-turvy, and this outcast who has trouble even conversing attempts to untangle the threads of the case while trying to keep the words straight in his head. Motherless Brooklyn is a brilliantly original homage to the classic detective novel by one of the most acclaimed writers of his generation.

This week I chose Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem, a book that I read in college as part of my required reading. I didn’t know it then but this would go on to become one of my most favorite detective tales that has since stayed with me. I am hazy on many of the smaller details but I loved the narrator Lionel Essrog an orphan with Tourettes Syndrome & OCD. Lionel ends up working for Frank Minna (mobster) as muscle up until Frank is murdered. The book is narrated by Lionel & therefore you’ll get random bursts of his Tourettes as well as his need to count things as he sets out to solve the mystery of Frank’s murder. I fell in love with Lionel’s character & felt this need to see him be ok on his own. There are many heartfelt moments as well as humorous ones…straight out laugh out loud moments. I loved seeing Lionel navigate Brooklyn (my home sweet home lol), the borough isn’t portrayed in a positive light but I believe people have forgotten Brooklyn’s past before gentrification. I’d recommend Motherless Brooklyn to anyone who enjoys a good detective novel & wouldn’t mind being inside the mind of a person with Tourettes & OCD since it is narrated by the character with these mental disorders.

Quotes

“Tourette’s is just one big lifetime of tag, really. The world (or my brain—same thing) appoints me it, again and again. So I tag back. Can it do otherwise? If you’ve ever been it you know the answer.” 
― Jonathan Lethem, Motherless Brooklyn

“Guilt wants to cover all the bases, be everywhere at once, reach into the past to tweak, neaten and repair. Guilt like Tourettic utterance flows uselessly, inelegantly from one helpless human to another, contemptuous of perimeters, doomed to be mistaken or refused on delivery.” 

― Jonathan Lethem, Motherless Brooklyn

“Prince’s music calmed me as much as masturbation or a cheeseburger.”

― Jonathan Lethem, Motherless Brooklyn