The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Choose and read a book (either fiction or nonfiction) related to the topic of Western Medicine and history. Your review will describe, critically analyze and evaluate the quality, meaning, and significance of the book you have chosen, not just a re-telling. It should focus on the book’s purpose, content, and authority. A critical book review is not a book report or a summary. It is a reaction paper in which strengths and weaknesses of the material are analyzed. It should include a statement of what the author has tried to do, how well the author has accomplished this goal and presents evidence to support this evaluation.
• 4 – 6 pages, double-spaced
• Need APA citations and bibliography
Writing Strategies –
1. State the author’s purpose in writing the book. Here are some questions you might consider:
a. Why did the author write on this subject rather than on some other subject?
b. From what point of view is the work written?
c. Was the author trying to give information, to explain something technical or to convince the reader of a belief’s validity by dramatizing it in action?
d. What is the general genre, and how does the book fit into it?
e. Who is the intended audience?
f. What is the author’s style? Formal? Informal?
g. Evaluate the quality of the writing style to include:
• Development of ideas and thoughts
• Word choice
• Does the style suit the intended audience?
h. How is the book organized? Topically? Chronologically?
i. How did the book affect you? Were there any previous ideas you had on the subject changed? Abandoned? Or reinforced due to the book?
j. How did the book relate to your own personal agenda and the course objectives?
k. What personal experiences have you had to relate to the subject?
l. How well has the book achieved its goal?
m. Would you recommend this book to others? Why or why not?
2. Theme and Thesis:
a. Theme – the subject or topic of the book.
b. Thesis – an author’s generalization (s) about the theme. The author’s beliefs about something important, the book’s philosophical conclusion, or the proposition the author means to prove.
3. Explain the development of the book – the way the author supports the thesis. Illustrate your remarks with specific references and quotations. Authors tend to use description (detailed word pictures of scenes and events that appeal to the senses), narration (author tells a story through a series of events, the plot), exposition (author uses explanation and analysis to present subject or to clarify an idea…primary purpose is to explain), and argument (author uses techniques of persuasion to establish truth or falsity with the primary purpose to persuade and convince).
a. Evaluate book for: interest, accuracy, objectivity, importance, thoroughness, and usefulness for the intended audience.
b. Do you agree or disagree with the author’s point of view? Why or why not?
c. What issues does the book raise and explore?
d. Compare it to other books on similar topics…how does it rate comparatively?
e. Does it have literary merit? Why or why not?
f. How does the book relate to larger, global matters and issues?
4. Discuss Author –
a. Try to find further information about the author’s reputation? Qualifications? Influences? Biographical information? Any reviews of the book or author to help establish author’s authority?
b. Any connections between the author’s philosophy, life experiences and reviews of the book?
Steps and Tips:
1. Summarize briefly.
2. Analyze and comment on book’s content.
3. State your general conclusions.
4. Use references and quotations to support your statements.
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