Tuesday, March 7, 2017


Augusta, Maine - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is Lithgow Public Library’s choice for A Capital Read 2017, which will feature several events in April celebrating the library’s community-wide reading project.

Author Rebecca Skloot uncovers the mystery of Henrietta Lacks, a poor black tobacco farmer known to scientists as HeLa. Her cells were taken without her knowledge in 1951. Skloot vividly recounts how HeLa became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and today her family can’t afford health insurance.

Soon to be released as an HBO movie by Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball, this New York Times bestseller takes readers on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers filled with HeLa cells, from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Va., to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks tells the story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew. It’s a story inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we’re made of.

Winner of several awards, including the 2010 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, the 2010 Wellcome Trust Book Prize, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Award for Excellence in Science Writing, the 2011 Audie Award for Best Non-Fiction Audiobook, and a Medical Journalists’ Association Open Book Award, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was featured on over 60 critics’ best of the year lists.

Events for A Capital Read 2017 will include:

Tuesday, April 4 at 6:30 pm: Kate McBrien and Joanna Torow, “Malaga Island, Fragmented Lives.”
Wednesday, April 12 at 6:30 pm: Gregory Fahy, Ph.D., “Exploring Bioethics: Consent, Ownership, and Medical Research.”
Wednesday, April 19 at 6:30 pm: Book Discussion led by staff.
Saturday, April 29 at 2:00 pm: “A Conversation with the Lacks Family.”

A Capital Read is sponsored by Bangor Savings Bank and the Friends of Lithgow Library, in partnership with the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine, Barnes and Noble, and the Augusta Civic Center.
Copies of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks will be available at Lithgow Library, Bangor Savings Bank Augusta locations, and The Holocaust and Human Rights Center at UMA, while supplies last.
All events for A Capital Read 2017 are free and open to the public.  For more information, contact Lithgow Library at 626-2415 or visit lithgow.lib.me.us.

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