Tag Archives: non-fiction

What I’ve Been Reading : The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Book I've Read - The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksWow. What a book. This one had me from page one. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot tells the story of Henrietta Lacks and the immortal cancer cells that were taken from her body, and how they took over the world.

This book is about much more than just some cells that won’t die. It’s about how the Lack family (a poor, uneducated black family from a tobacco farm) felt when they found out Henrietta’s cells were still alive and making some people very rich.

Ah! But the book is also about who has rights to cells once they’ve been taken from a body, whether that body is dead or alive. It’s a very interesting question that I would never have thought about otherwise. I had a mole removed a few years ago, do I have any rights to that sample once it leaves my body?

The author does an astounding job of showing as many sides of the story as she can. The doctors, the Lacks family and friends, the scientists, the people cured from various diseases thanks to HeLa cells, the journalists and the hospital where Henrietta Lacks went for cancer treatment and died.

Read it. You won’t regret it.

And that’s in my uneducated opinion.

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What I Thought Of : A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

A Thousand Acres - A novel by Jane SmileyI do realize that it doesn’t matter what I thought of A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley. I write about books I’ve read because when I read I allow myself to think about things outside of the small life I live and I like to share what I have learned and felt. Perhaps, that is most important and should be shared. I am but a simple girl from Oshawa, Ontario…maybe, that is why I was so interested in this book.  The novel is set on a large farm where a family has grown, worked and thrived into the late 1970-80s. Three sisters and their father live on the thousand acres and we begin the story with the father showing some strange behaviour …so strange, in fact, he has decided to spontaneously hand over his farm to his daughters. It is very clear in the book that this one day, the day their father gave up the farm, is the day everything went wrong. Or perhaps everything went right. Either way, it’s a mess!

The roles of daughters or wives and fathers and sons were so different from how we are today. I don’t know what I would have done if I was born into an established farm family where the woman’s purpose in life is to serve the men so they can work on the farm. Most wives weren’t even talked to. They were just expected to cook, clean and raise the children to understand the rules and to learn the ways of the farm. Men were the thinkers, women obeyed, abuse was commonplace and being grateful was expected. No, thanks.

I don’t know how many times, while reading A Thousand Acres, I was frustrated or confused. A lot of negative emotions came out of me because I couldn’t understand how someone could be that faithful or forgiving or unaffected. At the same time, I wanted to wake up some other family members and shout the truth at them because no one else seemed to be able to. As a reader, it is easy to see all sides of a story, I get that. I wish I could see all sides of my story when I get frustrated or angry. Wouldn’t that be handy?

In the middle of all this darkness enters a free spirited, organic farming, open and honest local boy who disappeared for 13 years while avoiding being drafted. He came back home from the west coast with all these outrageous ideas of new farming techniques and different points of views that weren’t discussed or tolerated. The importance of this charming boy and his effect on everyone’s lives is indisputable.

People are so strange and secretive and dark and light and beautiful and ugly all at the same time. Every one of us has the capability to be good and bad. And when we are faced with tragedy, you question if living a life filled with truth is really what everyone needs to survive.

Jane Smiley was the winner of the Pulitzer Prize and other awards for writing this book. I can’t deny it’s beauty, brilliance in its insights and simplicity…although, simplicity may not be the right word since this book reveals the complexity of human nature.

It was hard to put down this book and I’m glad I took it out of the library.

And that is in my uneducated opinion.

So, Did The Library Have That Book?

Fernie Library Book - Half Broken Horses by Jeanette Walls

Have you been sitting on the edge of your seats since I asked the big question? I love answers.