The book was excellent. It exposed the terrible tragedy experienced by this family. Although it is technical, it is well written and easy to read. It will move you from page one until the end.
There is an implication in the book, that Henrietta, quite possibly, got substandard care because she was black. The alternate reason for her lack of diagnosis and, perhaps, improper treatment, is that those were the days when patients were kept from knowing the truth of their diagnosis because it was too frightening for them to handle. Yet, although there is evidence that she repeatedly complained, no cancer diagnosis was made until it was, abruptly, way too late and she died a painful, premature death, at 31.
I learned that experimenting on humans, without their consent, was common practice even as late as the fifties, especially, it seems, in the black population. Doctors who thought of themselves as G-dlike, believing the results of their research ultimately justified the means they used, duped their ill patients neither warning or advising them of what they planned. They were experimental subjects and had no clue.
The author's research takes us to the landscape of Henrietta's life. Sadly, while her cells afforded others who had the means, innovative treatments, her own family could not afford anything but the most basic health care.
It was hard to read about the poverty of the Lacks’ existence and reconcile it with the wealth of information her cells have helped to discover, coupled with the financial wealth, as well, that her cells have provided, for those who used them to advance their research.
At one point in the story, Rebecca more or less tells Deborah that if her book is published she will start a fund for the education of Henrietta's heirs. I wonder if she kept her promise or if she, like others, simply used the Lacks family to advance themselves and their projects.
This is a sad book with tragic circumstances but the characters are real and so the impact of the story is profound. Life knocks them down and they keep getting up, trying to rise above the scars caused by the vast deprivation and evil around them and somehow they manage to face life in a simple spiritual way, with an ability to forgive. The component of faith, makes this book's ultimate message, more beautiful. I highly recommend it.