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Whew, talk about dark and dreary novels, Jeffrey Eugenides‘ The Virgin Suicides takes the cake! In the same strain of writing as The Silver Linings Playbook [review here], The Virgin Suicides is the tragic story of the five Lisbon sisters of Grosse Pointe, Michigan.
The Lisbon sisters are the desire of every teenage boy in their neighborhood. The constant focus of gossip, these sisters have insufferable parents, including a micromanaging father who refuses to let them out of the house. The youngest sister attempts suicide and eventually succeeds, during the girls first and only chaperoned party, when she jumps out of a second floor window and impales herself on their fence post.
The girls react in an odd and stoic way, with the new youngest sister Lux lashing out in rebellion. She gets permission to go to the homecoming dance with her sisters. After a drunken night involving sex with the most popular boy in school, Trip, Lux does not return home before her curfew. This causes their father to tighten his security and defenses and the family lives in relative hermitism.
The story ends with the girls luring the neighborhood boys over to their house for a ‘party’ while their parents are asleep. The Lisbon sisters all commit suicide in a myriad of ways with the boys in the house to witness.
Like I said, DARK. Not an uplifting story in the least, but I found myself oddly drawn to Eugenides writing style. Great writing, sad, sad story!
Oh, Henrietta Lacks, you are SO underappreciated for the advances your cells have made in science! Rebecca Skloot really expands on Henrietta’s and her family’s journey in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. This nonfiction novel is a great story of the history of African American women and how their bodies and cells were used for advances in science without their knowledge.
Often mistaken in history books as Helen Lane, Henrietta Lacks was a 31 year old mother of five who developed a severe strain of cervical cancer and died. Doctors at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore had removed cancerous cells from her cervix without permission before her death. In 1951, when Henrietta died, there were no laws regarding patient consent before removing body tissues and using them for medical research. The doctors found that her cells [also known as HeLa] were able to survive in culture, the first human cells to do so!
She became immortal through her cells when they were traded and used by researchers the world over for medical research. Henrietta’s cells were directly responsible for the polio vaccine, cancer research, and AIDS research [among others].
But that is just the beginning of Henrietta’s story and the drama around cell research. Not only were her cells taken without consent, but Henrietta’s family had NO IDEA they were taken and being SOLD by medical researchers and medical companies. The Lacks family struggled through poverty and never saw a dime of the MILLIONS made from the distribution of Henrietta’s cells.
This novel is incredible. Rebecca Skloot really got to know Deborah, Henrietta’s daughter. Skloot really invested herself in telling the story of the HeLa strain. The novel brings up many good points for and against cell redistribution and consent. I found myself going back and forth with the legalities and rights of the Lacks family and the researchers’ desire to further their field.
INCREDIBLE novel. A truly touching and poignant piece of literature. A new favorite. God Bless the Lacks family!!
-Rolling back and forth in bed all night, trying to get comfortable, but utterly failing.
-The sleet and snow we had last weekend… it made laundry day that much more difficult.
-Waking up to a cracked and bloody lip! Ugh, I have the worst dry lips EVER.
-GHOST the Musical!! Bwuahahahahahaha!? Ridiculous & hilarious night with my favorite gal, Emily!
-Dogs that always look like puppies! Dachshunds, Boston Terriers, Chihuahuas… all manner of small dogs. =)
-We’re going to celebrate Mitch’s 30th birthday this weekend with our families! I can’t wait for him to open his gifts!!
-185 days until our wedding!!!! =) EEP!!