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Book Club: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Chapters 34-36

young adult cancer book club

Welcome to the comments and discussion of the Young Adult Cancer Book Club!  We are reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot! Catch up on Chapters 1-3, Chapters 4-6, Chapters 7-9Chapters 10-12, Chapters 13-15, Chapters 16-18, Chapters 19-21, Chapters 22-24, Chapters 25-27Chapters 28-30, and Chapters 31-33.

Let’s get started!

Chapter 34.  The Medical Records.  2001.

This chapter of the book is also shown in the movie which I watched a few months ago.  We’ve just seen Deborah give Rebecca the medical records and then head into her own hotel room.  This chapter opens with Deborah coming back into Rebecca’s room while Rebecca sifts through the records and Deborah becomes increasingly agitated and anxious.  You can feel Deborah’s anxiety growing as she becomes increasingly overwhelmed by the information in the records.  We finally learn about the infamous Cofield and the lengths Deborah took to keep him away from these very same medical records.  She is so protective of this last, concrete link to her family and she’s doing all she can to hold on.

– Mallory C

Chapter 35.  Soul Cleansing.  2001.

Movies often distort the books they are derived from but this chapter is also very closely depicted in the movie of this same title.  Deborah has worked herself into a frenzy.  Stress is causing physical hives and an continued, heightened state as Rebecca and Deborah travel back to Deborah’s home.  In Gladys’s home, Deborah is finally calmed down by her cousin, Gary.  He helps to release Deborah’s burdens.  Rebecca says, “In any other circumstance I might have thought the whole thing was crazy.  But what was happening between Gary and Deborah at that moment was the furthest from crazy I’d seen all day.”

– Mallory C

Chapter 36.  Heavenly Bodies.  2001.

Gary and Rebecca share a very private moment while Deborah visits her doctor to relieve her hives.  Religion is the main topic of discussion and Gary has Rebecca read several passages from the Bible out loud.  “In that moment, reading those passages, I understood completely how some of the Lackses could believe, without doubt, that Henrietta had been chosen by the Lord to become an immortal being.  If you believe the Bible is the literal truth, the immortality of Henrietta’s cells makes perfect sense.”  To them, the answers in the Bible made more sense than the answers found in science.

– Mallory C

Thanks for joining us for Chapters 34-36 of  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot!  Join in next Monday for Chapters 37-38.

If you’re just joining us, here are some logistics:

We will talk about several chapters each Monday until the book is done (probably about three chapters since the book has so many).  Then, we’ll use one more Monday to talk about general feelings from the book and anything else you’d like to discuss.  Join in, in the comments every week!  At the end, we’ll have a book club discussion via video chat!  Also, there will probably be spoilers.  Read along with us!

How are you enjoying our young adult cancer book club?