This summer marks the fifth year for Central’s common reading program, uniting Central faculty, staff and new students. All first-year students are asked to read the book over the summer as part of Intersections, a required first-year course.
This year, the community read for the fall semester is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. A poor tobacco farmer from Virginia, Lacks died from cervical cancer in 1951. Yet her cells live on in labs, factories and even aboard ships launched into space. The research sprouting from her tumor cells became the foundation for modern science and led to breakthroughs in gene mapping, cloning, fertility, diseases and knowledge of cancer development.
Book discussion questions
Respond in the comments to the following book discussion questions:
- Beyond medicine, what is this book about? Is it important? Why or why not?
- Why was it so difficult for Skloot to make a connection with Henrietta’s family?
- What is our identity, beyond our biology? Can our cells have an “identity” without us? (References to part of Henrietta going into space, helping cure cancer…)
- Did you learn anything new from this book? If so, what and how will you apply it to your life?
- How does this book relate to your life today?