The Honors summer reading book this year was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. This book is about Hela cells, the woman they came from, her family, and the moral question of who owns the cells. In this book, the author, in pursuit of the story, builds relationships with Henrietta's family, and attempts to understand Henrietta herself. This book covers many different subject areas, including science, religion, sociology, and many others. The story is well written and, although it is long, keeps the reader's interest throughout the entire book.
This book deals heavily with the issues of being human and Christian in an interconnected world. Firstly, it addresses the issue of what constitutes a person: are the HeLa cells that exist all over the world actually Henrietta or are these cells simply property of the scientific and medical communities? Secondly, it touches on the Christian response to the situation surrounding HeLa cells. Henrietta's family understood the immortality of her cells as the fulfillment of the scripture that talks about eternal life. It also brings up the issue of morality in science and medicine. Finally, this book shows the interconnectedness of the world, by giving some examples of things HeLa cells have been used for. The cancer cells from this one woman have impacted the lives of the majority of people on this planet in some way.
This book really interested me. I enjoyed learning more about cells and cancer. I also enjoyed learning about Henrietta's life and family. This book opened up the issue of rights in medical research to me. I had no idea that the mole I got removed could be in a lab right now being researched. I think that people have a right to know what the pieces of their body are being used for, but not necessarily to any monetary compensation. This book also really emphasized how interconnected we all are. I think this book was a good use of my time this summer.