This was a super fast read back in 2011, but what a VOICE Sandra Cisneros has! Vignettes of a child’s view of immigrant poverty–one or two of which were simply too painful for me. You want to hug the girl telling the story and pick her up and whisk her out of there. This book is challenged for being inappropriate for the age group, but again, the girl in the story is young. She–and real children in our own country–are still enduring such things today. This book has truly earned the label “classic.” The House on Mango Street.
I did not enjoy Hemingway in high school. But, many years after graduating, I listened to this book with my son who was then a high school freshman. I finally “got it” where Hemingway was concerned. I enjoyed this book quite a lot–both the story and the prose. I also enjoyed my son’s comments and our discussions. Later we watched the movie version as well. The descriptions of war are what often gets this book challenged. But to a generation who has seen Saving Private Ryan and worse, they are not a big deal. To me, who “feels” the prose as much as reads it, they still are. But they are magnificent in that awful way of war stories. The romance, too, I felt as much as read. A Farewell to Arms.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a fascinating biography and science story all rolled into one. I know almost zip about science, but found myself sitting in the car listening to “just a little more” each day. A cell culture taken from a low-income African American woman turned out to be the golden-egg-laying-goose for science. That’s the simple part. The more intriguing part is the story of how Mrs. Lacks family dealt with this. Mrs. Lacks grew up in an isolated, impoverished area of Virginia that was kept cut-off from mainstream society by first slavery, then reconstruction and finally Jim Crow. Even in her current-day descendants there is a surreal innocence about science so much so that listening to it brought to mind not contemporary conversation, but a journal of Margaret Mead written on some forgotten island.
It’s the harsh reality of what was done (and is still done) to African Americans in this country that makes this story so riveting. The Lacks family has endured some of the worst treatment this country can dole out. Henrietta, her elder daughter and consequently her younger daughter have suffered in ways that no middle class white woman like myself can even comprehend. This story will continue to beckon to Book Clubs for generations. Every woman alive should read it and be grateful for the medical advances that came thru Henrietta and to atone for the ill-treatment this family has suffered.
This book was sadly misidentified as “pornography” by an under-educated woman who felt gynecology equaled pornography. Sad. Even sadder that it was a woman objecting–a woman who indirectly benefited from the research done with Henrietta Lack’s cells.
. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. (This review originally appeared on my old blog on February 28, 2012.)
Have you read any banned or challenged books this year? Not sure? Find out here on the American Library Associations Banned and Challenged Books Lists.