A review by oceanwriter
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

challenging emotional informative inspiring reflective sad medium-paced


Thanks to random YouTube rabbit holes, I was somewhat familiar with Henrietta Lacks and HeLa cells going into this book. Had I realized there was a book at the time, I would have read this a lot sooner. 
The book discusses Henrietta Lacks’ life and death, the discovery of her extraordinary cells, the controversy surrounding the acquisition of those cells, and the author’s quest to make this woman known to the world. There’s also a great deal of focus on Henrietta’s children and the impact of her death and legacy on them. 
There’s a great mix of science and emotional family history. I do wish that the book had separated these things more, maybe telling Henrietta’s life all in one section before moving on to the author’s pursuit of her story (or vice versa). As it is, the first section of the book is back and forth from past to present. Thankfully, it smoothes out as the book goes on and the focus shifts to the present and her living children. 
Fascinating stuff here. It’s mind-blowing to me that anyone reading the book could access these cells at the click of a button. It breaks my heart that her family didn’t receive any of the revenue, especially when they had their own medical bills to pay. Even without the discovery of HeLa cells, their family story is one to be told. 

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