Brewery Book Club: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Join us for the 4th meeting of the FHB book club!  We meet once a month at the brewery (3rd Wednesday of each month, at 7 pm) and anyone is welcome to come or not come based on their interest in that month's book. No commitment, no stress...just a chance to learn something new, share your opinions, and meet fellow supernerds. The book discussion is lead by our resident bookworm and brewery co-owner, Molly.

April's book is award-winning best seller The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  Part biography, part science lesson, the book explores the life and medical treatment of a woman with cancer in the 1950s.  It tells a "riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew."  This book is sure to divide opinion and make for a great topic of passionate discussion.

The book is available in paper, kindle, and audio formats.  Book club members are eligible for a 20% discount at Book World in Southbridge Mall, but they should call ahead to order their copy several weeks before they'd like to start reading (641-424-2665).  The Mason City Public Library has several paper copies and one audio copy on CD.  

About the book:

From a single, abbreviated life grew a seemingly immortal line of cells that made some of the most crucial innovations in modern science possible. And from that same life, and those cells, Rebecca Skloot has fashioned in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks a fascinating and moving story of medicine and family, of how life is sustained in laboratories and in memory. Henrietta Lacks was a mother of five in Baltimore, a poor African American migrant from the tobacco farms of Virginia, who died from a cruelly aggressive cancer at the age of 30 in 1951. A sample of her cancerous tissue, taken without her knowledge or consent, as was the custom then, turned out to provide one of the holy grails of mid-century biology: human cells that could survive--even thrive--in the lab. Known as HeLa cells, their stunning potency gave scientists a building block for countless breakthroughs, beginning with the cure for polio. Meanwhile, Henrietta's family continued to live in poverty and frequently poor health, and their discovery decades later of her unknowing contribution--and her cells' strange survival--left them full of pride, anger, and suspicion. For a decade, Skloot doggedly but compassionately gathered the threads of these stories, slowly gaining the trust of the family while helping them learn the truth about Henrietta, and with their aid she tells a rich and haunting story that asks the questions, Who owns our bodies? And who carries our memories? --Tom Nissley