Lit Sistas: “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”

I’m a big reader, so it’s only natural that one of my favorite blogs is Underground New York Public Library. I get a great deal of book selections from there, as well as a bit of people watching. (This guy has been my favorite, and the thoughtful posing here made me smile)

For the purposes of this blog, I’d been looking at some of my reading choices in a different way. Not only am I deciding whether I like or dislike the book, I’m going to try to think about the role that Sista(er)hood has played in it.

Most recently, I read ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” It was one of those books that everyone told me to read, but I never got around to it. And when I did, I couldn’t put it down. The short version is that it is the story of Henrietta Lacks, a woman who died from cervical cancer decades ago but doctors continued to use her cells for scientific advancement. Journalist Rebecca Skloot aims to write a book about how Henrietta’s descendants fared, and what they think about their mother being used by science.

There’s a lot more to the book, but the Sista(er)hood part comes from Rebecca and Deborah, Henrietta’s only surviving daughter. The writer becomes a part of the book as she documents how she tried to persuade Deborah into access to the family, and then had to show her the different ways her mother’s cells were used. Deborah went back and forth to trusting and being suspicious of the writer, and they became close in their efforts to find justice for Henrietta.

In the end, Deborah and Rebecca didn’t become the kind of Sistas who got together for manicures and gossip. They became the kind of Sistas who knew they had nothing in common, they got on each other’s nerves quite a bit, but they didn’t let that stop them from righting past wrongs. There are women who have been friends for a lifetime that can’t reach the level of Sista(er)hood that Rebecca and Deborah reached in a few years.


About Shay

I'm a fan of good friends, good food and good writing.
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2 Responses to Lit Sistas: “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”

  1. dilipnaidu says:

    Nice post. Reading is such a lovely habit. Books can change our moods and make us feel good.

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