The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Published: 2010

Genre: nonfiction biography

Length: 328 pages of text, 377 with notes

Interest: It was a book I’d heard about quite a bit, but didn’t get around to reading until my mother-in-law lent it to me after reading it for her book club.

Summary: Rebecca tells the story of her research into the person behind the HeLa cells. HeLa cells were the first human cells ever cultured and they are still critical to scientific research. The cells were obtained during a cancer biopsy on Henrietta Lacks, who was a mystery to scientists until this book. Rebecca went to the Lacks family to learn who Henrietta was, but she first had to win their trust and convince the family she meant no harm.

Final thoughts: I found this a fascinating story. The lack of knowledge of Henrietta and her family (poor and black) about what was done to her and her cells  and what it meant was amazing. I also enjoyed the information about the cells and early culturing methods. Of course, I love science books, but this is interesting beyond just the science parts of it. Definitely a good read, and it sticks with you. I read this three years ago and I still remember parts of the book today.

Title comes from: While Henrietta died of cancer soon after he cells were first cultured, her cancer cells continue to live and grow.

Reading challenges fulfilled: None, since this is a review of a book I read in a previous year

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


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