The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

About the book

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer whose cancer cells became one of the most important tools in medicine. Rebecca Skloot takes the reader on an extraordinary journey in search of Henrietta’s story.

Reviewed by Bookends

We found this book to be informative but not a page turner. An amazing story with insights into racist behaviour; lack of information at the time to give consent with the positive side of research which may not have happened otherwise. Well written and researched.

Star rating ***

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12 years a slave by Solomon Northup

About the book

Born a free man in New York State in 1808, Solomon Northup was kidnapped in Washington, D.C., in 1841. He spent the next 12 years as a slave on a Louisiana cotton plantation, and during this time he was frequently abused and often afraid for his life. This is his detailed description of slave life and plantation society.

Reviewed by The Benches

Interesting and almost a horror story. Too much detail in some parts but an easy read and it uncovers slavery from the inside. Most of our readers rated it 3 stars and the rest 2 stars.

Star rating: ***

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Vernon God Little by D B C Pierre

About the book

Vernon Little is 15 and lives with his mother in Martirio, Texas. His best friend has just massacred 16 of their classmates before killing himself. The town wants vengeance and turns its sights on Vernon, who has just been arrested when he starts telling us his story.

Reviewed by Whitchurch reading Group

A very dodgy start but well worth persevering! Disturbing (if sometimes funny) picture of extreme modern society.

Star rating: ****

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Sex wars by Marge Piercy

About the book

Life is hard in post-Civil War New York, but change is in the air. Immigrants are pouring into the city, bringing a new spirit in their wake. Among them is Freydeh, who lives in a tiny tenement flat with eight others and works at as many jobs as she can handle in hopes of raising enough money to bring her family over from Russia.

Reviewed by New Forest/Waterside U3A theatre and literature

Marge Piercy offers us a wide and exotic canvas on which she paints a devastating picture of the “brave New World” of the United States. A long way from “Little Women” or the New England reformers of Henry James’ novels, Sex Wars gets into the tenements and whore-houses of New York and makes us feel the dirt and degradation. It leads to a view of their struggle for women’s suffrage little known or appreciated on this side of the Atlantic. We are reminded too that the extremes of religion and politics have not changed much in the past hundred years. This is a thought-provoking book for anyone prepared to be provoked.

Star rating: ****

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