Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (#32)

When a poor black woman named Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer in the '50's, doctors took a sample of her cells without permission and discovered to their amazement that these cells grew rapidly and without limits. Soon cell samples were distributed widely in the scientific community and led to many important discoveries such as the cure for polio. The cells, known as "Hela" grew and multiplied, went around the world, were shot into space, commonly used in laboratories everywhere, and becoming quite famous. At the same time Henrietta's young family suffered many troubles without her, unable to even afford heath care at the very institutions profiting from her cells which had become a multimillion dollar industry.
This book is both a mystery and a scientific read. The author tracked down the history of the Hela cells while learning about Henrietta's family. Well done.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Center of Everyhing by Laura Moriarty (#30) and Girl with a Pearl Earring (#31)

While in New Jersey at Tom and Kelly's house I read two excellent books:

The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty is the first book by a favorite author whose more recent two books I have read in the past few months. The main character, Evelyn, is being raised by a struggling single mother. The author created a very believeable plot with strong characters. I could barely put the book down. My only comment is that I wanted the book to continue. What would happen to Evelyn in the years to come?

The second book is Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. I had heard about this book for a long time and believe I had even begun it before but finally I had time to really enjoy it. Set in Holland in the 1600's, a maid in the house of the painter Vermeer captures his interest when she reveals an ability to perceive colors and composition in his paintings and becomes the subject for a portrait. The author gives a realistic view of life at that time and place.

I highly recommend both books.