Earlier this month, my good friend Bev (of BevsBookBeat) wrote a splendid review for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks that captivated me. I'd heard of the book, and it certainly sparked my interest, but it hadn't caused me to move it up in my book/audiobook stack. Reading Bev's review did just that, and I'm so happy it did. I'm not even going to attempt to cover why it's one of the best books of the year for me, but point you to Bev's written assessment because she covered it better that I ever could:
"This is a non-fiction that reads like fiction~~I read it in three days because I couldn't put it down. I stayed up until 2 in the morning reading it. It was the most fascinating book I have read in a long time and the best book I read this year. This book is so rich in information about science, medicine, and how one person can unknowingly change the world..."I will only say that the scope of the story spans from the microscopic to the colossal (when one comprehends the scale and growth of the HeLa cell line), and that it cuts across race, class, faith, science, family, and the law that touches our everyday lives. Ms. Skloot, in writing her book, is to be commended for what she accomplished in her written history of the lives of Henrietta and her family, and for showing a fair light on the science and medicine most of us take for granted. It is at once an informative, heartbreaking, and powerfully fascinating bit of history that is surprisingly personal.
The Random House audiobook that I listened to did the work a deserved justice, as well. Narrators Cassandra Campbell and Bahni Turpin could not have performed their reading any better, or have been better matched to the material, IMO. This is another example of a lightning in a bottle instance for a book and its reader(s) in the audio format. Given the range and diversity of the people set down in the book, and the subject matter, I don't think their delivery and achievement can be underestimated. If you listen to the audiobook, there is segment (involving the news of Henrietta's daughter and the author) that will likely catch you as it did me. I won't spoil it for you, but neither the reader nor the listener could fake their reaction. It is a highly recommended book/audiobook for anyone interested in history and remarkable individuals.