The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

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Chapter 9 Summary


A few days after Day hung up on Rebecca, she drove to Baltimore to speak with his second son, who was also named David, but who went by Sonny. She paged Sonny several times from her hotel room at the Holiday Inn, but he did not reply. While she waited, she reviewed a Rolling Stone article about the Lacks family from the 1970s. As she read through it, she realized that the writer of the article had stayed in the same Holiday Inn when he researched the Lacks family decades before.

Sonny never called back, so eventually Rebecca gave up and set out to find Henrietta’s old address in Turner Station, on the outskirts of the city. It was a poor neighborhood that was generally ignored by mapmakers, and Rebecca had to consult four different maps to figure out how to get there. She knew it had been a booming town during World War II, but since then it had been in decline. Most stores and schools there were closed, and it was notorious for violence and drug abuse.

Rebecca could not find Henrietta’s old house, so she drove to the address of a grocery store in Turner Station that had been proposed as a site for a Henrietta Lacks museum. There Rebecca saw only an old mobile home with some black men sitting on the porch. Unnerved, she circled the neighborhood several times. People waved, smiling and shaking their heads at this young white woman driving in circles. A group of children began to follow her car as a game.

Eventually Rebecca arrived at a Baptist church she had seen mentioned in one of her articles, and she tried to go inside. It was locked, but a preacher soon arrived and took her to the store she...

(The entire section is 450 words.)