What an absolutely fascinating book! I’m so grateful to Arlene Blum for telling me about it!
This non-fiction book gives the reader much more than I expected and sustained my interest all the way through, including the appendix (!!!). I had it as an audio-book, and the readers were excellent.
It’s a tale of medical history, explaining how important (big-time!) advances came to be. But it’s also a well told story of the real people behind these advances, their lives and how events affected them.
And then there’s more. Much more. These medical advances are intertwined with American history, the history of African-American’s migration to big cities and their relationship with the medical establishment (who knew that John Hopkins hospital once had segregated wards, and that’s because they were the only hospital in Baltimore that would treat the African-Americans to begin with?) and even a connection to the question of why the members of Klu Klux Klan wore white sheets.
If all that wasn’t enough, there is the legal aspect. What rights did patients have then? What rights do we have now in related to cells and tissue taken from our bodies?
Through all that, there is a very personal story of Henrietta Lacks and her family, over several generations.
Allowing students to eat in class, during a lesson, really is a sticky issue. It is a multi-sided problem full of “yeah, but…” that crops up mainly during lessons later on in the day or during the very first lesson of the day. In most schools in this country there are no “lunch periods”. Students (and teachers!) eat during the breaks between the lessons. One break is longer than the others to allow for eating time.
A hungry student, especially a child or a teenager, cannot concentrate. Particularly so when it comes to children who have trouble concentrating at school in the first place, though I have seen the same phenomenon with adult students.
That’s a fact, as far as I’m concerned. That hungry student might as well have been absent – he/she isn’t taking in much (if anything) of the lesson. A sheer waste of time.
If you let students munch on sandwiches as they study, you run headlong into “THE STICKY” & “THE SMELLY”. In my classroom we have a lot of shared materials which risk getting all sticky, smudged and unpleasant. In addition, some students bring food with distinct odors, pleasant to some, offensive to others. Such smells tend to take over the room and can cause students who weren’t hungry before to become hungry too…
When I see a student whose hunger is the only thing on his/her mind I tell them to go outside for five minutes, eat and come back to class. This policy works really well with some students, who study effectively for the rest of the lesson. The problem arises particularly after gym class when the child feels particularly hungry but the time spent in the locker room “ate up” all the break time.
School management doesn’t want students outside the classrooms during the lessons when there are no hall / yard monitors. And the student is missing out on whatever is going on inside the classroom.
And a different kind of BUT…
Some students are quick to take advantage (emphasis on “some”, others emphatically do not). Why should they waste their precious break time eating when they need to talk? Why should they waste their time standing in line to buy food during the break when there are no lines during a lesson?
Now and then (since I teach in a high-school) there are a few cases of those dieting teenage girls who haven’t eaten a single thing all day and then “oh so surprisingly” (to them, not me) start feeling faint with hunger when they hit sixth period (not to mention seventh and eighth…).
I try to adhere to a policy of “drink only” during a lesson (I sometimes need a sip of water during a lesson too!) and I let the students chew gum. But three weeks into the new school year the “absolutely dying of hunger teen” has already showed up three times.
This seems to be an issue that I cannot be completely consistent about.
Yes, there is something strange about every Murakami book that I have read but this is one of the stranger ones. Parts of it I still don’t understand at all.
However, the parts I did understand were thought-provoking. Several times I had to stop reading and think about what was just said. I’m afraid I didn’t copy out some of the sample sentences, so I’ll just mention one example. There was a part about how memories (important ones and minor ones) serve as fuel for people, that really touched a nerve.
I’m still thinking about the book though, which is another sign that it was worth reading. Looking and being observed is an important issue in the book, one character whose eyes are closed but is being observed, another who sees everything but can influence nothing…
My favorite Murakami’s are still “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” and “Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World”.
Our family took a trivia quiz together today and the following question was on it:
“Under which tree did Ferdinand the bull like to sit?”
Not only couldn’t I remember the answer to the question related to this lovely children’s book, our sons didn’t remember the book! I DID read it to them when they were young, but it wasn’t a book we actually owned and they don’t remember it all. Frankly, they couldn’t quite imagine a book related to bull fights as being “lovely”…
I really liked the tale. Must tell MY mother about it – she loved reading me that book along with Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel. Sigh – another book our boys didn’t own and I don’t think they remember. As much as I try not to buy books and rejoice in the library, the books young children own seem to be the ones that find a firm hold in their memories.
There are lots of videos related to the book online – I found the narrator of this one to be amusing.
Teaching English as a FOREIGN language to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students