Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Thoughts On "The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks"

Source:  Goodreads

Summary from Goodreads...
Her name is Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa.  She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells--taken without her knowledge--became one of the most important tools in medicine.  The first "immortal" human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years...

Rebecca Skloot


This book is a hard one for me to talk about simply because I have so many feelings about it that I'm not sure where to start.   

Let me start by saying that this is a fascinating book--a disturbing, infuriating, sad, fascinating book, and I'm so glad I read it.  I learned so much.  It is a perfect mix of the family life and background of the Lacks family and science.  

What Henrietta Lacks went through prior to her death--not only the cancer that took her life, but the treatment as well--was at times hard to read, but absolutely essential to the book.  Without Henrietta Lacks' illness, there would be no HeLa cells, and without HeLa cells, most of the medicines and vaccines we take for granted today would not exist.  She's that important, and I'm sad to say that I'd never heard of her before I came across this book on Goodreads.  

I believe that what Rebecca Skloot has accomplished is this:  giving credit where credit is due.  The whole world should know what Henrietta Lacks and her family have suffered, and what her cells have meant to all of us.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks isn't just for people who like science...if you care about civil rights, women's rights, patient rights, human want to read this book.  It has opened my eyes, and I think it just might open yours too.


  1. I had a hard time writing about this one, too. I'm glad to see it made an impact on you! It's quite a powerful book.

    1. It really did MJ. Amazing book!

  2. I really enjoyed this book too and also had some mixed emotions with it. I did write a post on it, if I may share:

    1. I'm definitely going to check out your post. Thanks for sharing!