Somewhat extreme views that are nonetheless worthy of close consideration by parents.

READ REVIEW

THE BUSINESS OF BABY

WHAT DOCTORS DON'T TELL YOU, WHAT CORPORATIONS TRY TO SELL YOU, AND HOW TO PUT YOUR PREGNANCY, CHILDBIRTH, AND BABY BEFORE THEIR BOTTOM LINE

Investigative journalist Margulis (co-author: The Baby Bonding Book for Dads, 2008, etc.) contends that corporate interests are putting the lives of mothers and children at risk in order to increase the bottom line.

“Most hospitals have a financial incentive to do as many interventions as possible and deliver women as quickly as possible,” writes the author. The American medical profession ranks so poorly when it comes to maternal and infant mortality that mothers are four times more likely to die during pregnancy or in childbirth than in Bosnia; compared to Irish or Italian women, the death rate is seven times higher. Similar shocking statistics hold for children. The U.S. ranks 49th among industrialized nations regarding infant death rates. While recognizing the importance of factors such as the higher number of older American women pregnant with their first child, the use of fertility drugs leading to multiple births and lack of universal health care, Margulis focuses on the one-size-fits-all, high-end medical care offered to middle- and upper-income women despite their age, their ability to pay or their expressed preferences. To substantiate her charge that the medical system puts the interests of “large companies…ahead of the best interests of the mother and her baby,” the author gives examples of women being warned off natural childbirth by obstetricians and urged instead to induce labor using hormones; or better yet, from the standpoint of doctors and hospitals, opt for a Caesarian section. Margulis also examines the claim that overuse of ultrasound to test fetal development and routine administration of megadose vaccinations may contribute to autism, and she finds fault with supplementary bottle-feeding and the overuse of diapers, which causes an unnecessary delay in potty training.

Somewhat extreme views that are nonetheless worthy of close consideration by parents.

Pub Date: April 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4516-3608-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

THE ESCAPE ARTIST

Fremont (After Long Silence, 1999) continues—and alters—her story of how memories of the Holocaust affected her family.

At the age of 44, the author learned that her father had disowned her, declaring her “predeceased”—or dead in his eyes—in his will. It was his final insult: Her parents had stopped speaking to her after she’d published After Long Silence, which exposed them as Jewish Holocaust survivors who had posed as Catholics in Europe and America in order to hide multilayered secrets. Here, Fremont delves further into her tortured family dynamics and shows how the rift developed. One thread centers on her life after her harrowing childhood: her education at Wellesley and Boston University, the loss of her virginity to a college boyfriend before accepting her lesbianism, her stint with the Peace Corps in Lesotho, and her decades of work as a lawyer in Boston. Another strand involves her fraught relationship with her sister, Lara, and how their difficulties relate to their father, a doctor embittered after years in the Siberian gulag; and their mother, deeply enmeshed with her own sister, Zosia, who had married an Italian count and stayed in Rome to raise a child. Fremont tells these stories with novelistic flair, ending with a surprising theory about why her parents hid their Judaism. Yet she often appears insensitive to the serious problems she says Lara once faced, including suicidal depression. “The whole point of suicide, I thought, was to succeed at it,” she writes. “My sister’s completion rate was pathetic.” Key facts also differ from those in her earlier work. After Long Silence says, for example, that the author grew up “in a small city in the Midwest” while she writes here that she grew up in “upstate New York,” changes Fremont says she made for “consistency” in the new book but that muddy its narrative waters. The discrepancies may not bother readers seeking psychological insights rather than factual accuracy, but others will wonder if this book should have been labeled a fictionalized autobiography rather than a memoir.

A vivid sequel that strains credulity.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982113-60-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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