Book Club Roundup- Following Polly The Immortal Life and the Goldfinch

Lack of theme is the theme of this roundup. Whereas my last reads shared a similarity, these are as varied as they come.

First up, I read Following Polly by Karen Bergreen. This was a book club pick that I wasn’t really thrilled about, but it was better than is expected. It’s a quick and compelling read with a few fun twists and turns. It sort of fell apart towards the end for me, and there were a few loose ends that never got tied up, but overall a fun read.

Next was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. This book has been on everyone’s (myself included) list for a few years now, but it was a different book club (yep, I’m shopping around for a book club I like at the moment) that prompted me to finally download it. I find biology and the history of medical science pretty fascinating to begin with, but I think there’s something for everyone in this book regardless of scientific interest level. I will say though that it’s not for anyone with a weak stomach. There is some pretty graphic medical detail.

That said, it’s a human interest piece at heart. Two things stood out to me in The Immortal life. The first was the author’s passion. This is a subject Skloot has chased doggedly for years, and I just found that so compelling. She was only in her twenties while doing most of the research, which is both incredibly intimidating and inspiring.

The second part that stood out was the level of suspense. I never would have believed a non fiction read about human cancer cells would be a page turner, but it really was. I found myself really interested to know what happened next in both the historical and present day sections of the book.

The only gripe I have with this book is that there are points where it feels exploitative which is especially unsettling considering the entire premise of the book revolves around a family exploited by the scientific community. Still, the story is one that begs to be told, and Skloot was definitely the right person to do so.

Finally we’ve got The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I picked this one up on my own after seeing it on an Amazon book list and liking the cover. It’s the best book I’ve read in a long time. The story is fascinating and took so many unexpected turns, but, honestly, I didn’t care. I just wanted to keep reading Tartt’s words. It was one of those books that I’d sort of ration out to myself so as not to finish too quickly. I’d just go back and re-read pages just trying to take it all in. I’m already looking forward to reading the whole thing again. I loved all the characters (even the awful ones), and I was so invested in the outcome. Fantastic read. Don’t let the 700+ pages intimidate you.

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