Review: Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

“Yet here she was, three months later, with a full-fledged tumor. Either her doctors had missed it during her last exams – which seemed impossible – or it had grown at a terrifying rate.” page 17

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.
Broadway Books, Crown Publishing Group, Penguin Random House, New York, 2010.
My edition 2011, some portions published as early as 2000.
Nonfiction, 381 pages including notes, index, and reading group guide.
Lexile:  1140L  .
AR Level:  8.0 (worth 18.0 points) .

Henrietta Lacks had an usual type of cancer.  Cells from this cancer were able to become the first immortal cell line and have been invaluable to many scientific discoveries and advancements in the past century.  But Henrietta was also a working-class black woman whose family was not informed of the existence of this cell line, and who died misdiagnosed.  This book manages to tell three stories: the story of Henrietta and the Lacks family, the story of her famous and scientifically important cells, and the story of the reporter’s own experiences interacting with the family.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The movie tie-in cover tricked me.  I needed to grab a Target pick quickly, so I grabbed this book without realizing it was one I had flagged as do not purchase/obtain from friend or library.  As you can tell, reading this book was something I was conflicted about, and after finishing it, I remain deeply conflicted and uncertain if I can recommend it (though I know a great deal more about the HeLa controversies than I did before reading this).

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Review: When Dimple Met Rishi

“Rishi had heard once you were attracted to someone, your brain could actually rewire itself and make you think all kinds of sucky things about them were perfect.” page 197

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon.
Simon Pulse, Simon and Schuster, New York, 2017.
YA romance, 378 pages.
Not yet leveled.
NOTE: This is a work of fiction although I’m not reviewing it on Fiction Friday.

Dimple is shocked when her parents are willing to pay for her to attend a special summer program for web developers – she could have sworn her mother didn’t understand that programming, not marriage, is her life passion.  Rishi doesn’t mind attending the same camp – it’s not much of a detour for the chance to meet his future wife early – and he knows his family has found his perfect lifelong partner.

When Dimple Met Rishi cover resized

This book (and the other I preordered) arrived!  Family obligations held me until 9 p.m., but then I was able to read and read.  Because of the time constraints of the #AsianLitBingo challenge, this review is after only one reading, and I’m backdating it to post on the 30th, when I read this.  If other things jump out at me, I’ll edit this post.
Edited to Add: Actually, Sinead’s review covers what I missed – some ableism, a hypocritical statement, the humor and inclusion of Hindi, etc.

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Review: Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

“Mrs. Sikelo took me behind a curtain to a smaller room, where three floor-to-ceiling shelves were filled with books. It smelled sweet and musty, like nothing I’d ever encountered.” page 161

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer.
William Morrow, HarperCollins, New York, 2009.  My P.S. edition 2010.
New York Times Bestseller.
Lexile:  960L  .
AR Level:  6.4 (worth 15.0 points)  .
NOTE: There are three books with this title.  This review is of the adult edition.  There is also a picture book and a young reader’s edition chapter book.

William Kamkwamba had access to a small library and a scrapyard full of parts, and a dream – to ensure that his family would never starve again.  Against all odds and despite ridicule, he built a windmill and brought electricity to his family’s rural Malawian home.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

This book surprised me.  I knew the basic premise – boy builds windmill with scrap parts to bring change to his village.  But I didn’t realize that this was actually the story of Kamkwamba’s life, which starts long before windmills were even a gleam in his eye.

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Review: Mission to Space

“I am Commander John B. Herrington and I am Chickasaw.” page 4

Mission to Space by John Herrington.
White Dog Press, Chickasaw Press, Ada, Oklahoma, 2016.
Picture book informative non-fiction, 20 pages including glossary.
Not yet leveled.

John Herrington tells about space travel, including the preparations for what happened during his trip to space.  Since he is an enrolled tribal member of the Chickasaw Nation, his experiences as an astronaut are also viewed through the lens of his indigenous heritage.

Mission to Space

I had to get this after reading Debbie Reese’s review at AICL.  Not only did she strongly recommend it, but the pictures she shared from the book also had me convinced that this would be great for my students.  Many of them love space, and most are ill-informed about indigenous peoples, so this book would be a great way to interest and educate.  Plus, the book trailer was great too.

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Review: Hidden Figures

“They would prove themselves equal or better, having internalized the Negro theorem of needing to be twice as good to get half as far.” p. 48

Hidden Figures:The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly.
William Morrow Imprint, HarperCollins, New York, 2016.
Adult non-fiction, 346 pages including notes and index.
New York Times Bestseller.
Lexile: not yet leveled
AR Level:  9.7 (worth 18.0 points)

In 1969, a human being set foot on the moon for the first time.  Although you wouldn’t know it from the all-white, mostly-male camera coverage, the calculations of a black woman helped him get there.  But this story starts much earlier, when the labor shortage of WWII allowed highly qualified, extremely intelligent, and very respectable female African-American mathematicians a chance at a job with pay and work closer to what they deserved.

They came in droves to Langley, in Hampton, Virginia, for a unprecedented opportunity in the midst of a heavily segregated community.  Those who stayed, and their white female counterparts, spent decades breaking barriers and proving their value to aeronautics over and over again, so that when John Glenn needed the numbers for his first spaceflight checked, Katherine Johnson would be in the right place to be able to perform those and other calculations.

hidden-figures-resized

This book is so superb you should run out and get it right now.

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Review: The Sun is Also a Star

“Before the deportation notice, he refused to speak with a Jamaican accent or use Jamaican slang.” p. 25

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon.
Delacorte Press, Penguin Random House, 2016.
YA romance, 348 pages.
Lexile: HL650L  (What does HL mean in Lexile?)
AR Level:  4.7 (worth 10.0 points)

This book takes place over one very intense day.  Natasha is a serious girl who loves science and music.  Daniel is a romantic boy who loves poetry but works diligently to meet his parents high expectations.  When they meet on the streets of New York City, love is destined, except for one catch: Natasha’s family is about to be deported.  Can she stay in America?  Can they somehow make it work?  Is love really about fate or just a chemical reaction in the brain?

the-sun-is-also-a-star
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

As Natasha and Daniel are telling their story, there are interludes from a third person perspective that give more information about various details and background about people in their lives.

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Review: Case of the Missing Trophy

If you have or know a child between 2nd and 5th grade, go out and get them this book.

The Case of the Missing Trophy by Angela Shelf Medearis, illustrated by Robert Papp.
Scholastic, New York, 2004.
Elementary mystery, 135 pages.
Lexile: 580L
AR Level: 4.0 (worth 3.0 points)
NOTE: This book is a sequel to The Spray-Paint Mystery, but has no spoilers for that book.

Cameron is so excited about the upcoming science fair.  He can’t wait to be in fifth grade so that he can participate and maybe win the trophy back to his school for another year.  The only thing more exciting is solving mysteries like his dad.  But it’s no mystery why Cameron is always losing and forgetting things – it’s not easy shuffling between two houses each week now that his mom is back in Austin, Texas.  Cameron’s spent so much time staring at the trophy in the display case, now it’s up to him and his three best friends to figure out where the trophy disappeared to!

the-case-of-the-missing-trophy

I grabbed this book from the library because of the cover, blurb unread.  Honestly I’m finding so many wonderful new-to-me authors this way, I nearly feel like I should choose all of my books based on the diversity of the cover.  So I wasn’t aware this was a sequel.  However, it doesn’t matter.  The previous case is referenced a few times, but no details are given, adults just state that the case was solved last year.

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