Monthly Archives: February 2010

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: something I didn’t say

So my Science review of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot came out today. It’s here, although you’ll need a subscription to get through. I’ll have a secret back door link in a couple of days, which I’ll post from my Clips page.

Anyway, I wanted to spend a moment talking about the something I didn’t say in the review. Is Rebecca Skloot a badass or what?

It took her *ten years* to write this book. She had doors repeatedly slammed in her face. People refused to talk to her, hung up on her, and generally treated her as untrustworthy. An entire town disappeared while she was writing Henrietta’s story. But she still made it happen, seemingly bringing it into existence by a mixture of stubbornness and passion.

Reading between the lines, it also seems that Skloot may have had some problems with editors. (I think it was in the prologue where she mentioned there was an editor that wanted to completely remove the Lacks family from the book? Seems odd, since their story was the part that really dug into your chest and squeezed.)

Well, maybe that’s normal. I don’t know, I’ve never had a book published. But I do know this–if I ever do write a book, I’m going to use Immortal Life as an example of how to do it right. It was the type of book that hangs around a long long time after you put it down, the kind of story you experience rather than read.

Okay, enough. I’ll chuck my Rebecca Skloot pompoms and megaphone into the corner now. But really–go read it. It will not be a waste of your time.

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