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Book Club: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Chapters 37-38

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, Chapters 31-33, and Chapters 34-36.

Let’s get started!

Chapter 37.  “Nothing to Be Scared About.”  2001.

In this chapter, Deborah’s physical and mental suffering takes its toll. It can be a difficult read seeing her fears and panic as her dreams and body fall apart. Rebecca desperately tries to support Deborah in a world that seems bent on unraveling. The glory Rebecca and Deborah seek for Henrietta is always out of reach or just not enough to save the Lack’s family. The reader’s heart breaks for Deborah as she re-frames her ambitions accepting her physical and mental limitations. So much of this rang true to my own journey. Learning to trust an outsider to do your will and the next generation to fill your shoes is a struggle. The speech at the baptism cemented Rebecca as member of the Lacks family and a worthy keeper of the flame.

– Mary-Clare B

Chapter 38.  The Long Road to Clover.  2009.

This chapter brings us full circle in this crazy journey.  Rebecca “pulls off the highway onto the road into Clover” and discovers the city is no longer there!  In the years following their research, Deborah experiences a lot of loss and death in her family.  Day dies of a stroke, Cootie kills himself, Cliff’s brother Fred dies of cancer…so much heartbreak.  And finally…Deborah dies.  Rebecca remembers moments from her time with Deborah and recalls her saying, “Maybe I’ll come back as some HeLa cells like my mother, that way we can do good together out there in the world.”

I have to add that the “Where They Are Now” and the “Afterword” are definitely worth reading in this book.

– Mallory C

And that’s it!  Join in next Monday for a sign up to our online, video chat young adult cancer book club discussion!!!

Thanks for joining us for Chapters 37-38 of  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot!  Join in next Monday for a sign up to our online, video chat young adult cancer book club discussion!!!

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?