"My Expectations Were Too High"
Have you ever been totally geeked out about the next greatest book or movie only to feel a let-down when you finally experience it?
Conversely, have you ever started a little-known book or movie and felt tremendously and happily surprised when it knocks your socks off?
Expectations can be far too influential in my enjoyment of media sometimes.
Unfortunately my expectations were too high for this nonfiction book (which won some Goodreads awards in 2010). Admittedly part of the problem is my preference for fiction novels. It was a bit difficult for me to connect to the "characters" involved, particularly the narrator. She's a scientist and a reporter, and I appreciate her intense research and her desire to share the facts, but her style made the story rather dry at times. I felt like I was hit over the head with the irony of mostly white scientists making money off a black woman's cells when her family couldn't afford their own health care. This is a tragic situation and should definitely be explored, but at times the book seemed a bit preachy to me.
I'm glad I decided to finish the book because it did improve as it progressed. I enjoyed the scientific and spiritual aspects of the story--why did the HeLa cells survive outside Henrietta Lacks' body when no other cells could? The rationale behind the development of institutional review boards to monitor research ethics was eye-opening. And I chuckled hearing about "Sir Lord Doctor", the swindler "attorney" who tried to get hold of the family's medical records.
I'll have to read some glowing reviews by other Goodreads readers, which undoubtedly will shed some light on my understanding of the story. For now I give it 3 stars.