Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

February 19, 2015

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is a non-fiction book about the woman who gave us the HeLa cells used by scientists to this day.

I will gift a Kindle version of this book to one lucky winner.

  • 381 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400052181

Book Review The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

My Rat­ing for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks5

Buy this book in paper or elec­tor­nic format*

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot has many things going for it. The book is about science, medicine, ethics but mostly it is about people.

Ms. Skoot captured a sad story and made it a captivating read while asking some tough questions and giving the Lacks family a platform to share their thoughts and to science to explain itself.

The HeLa cells have been used by scientists for decades to benefit mankind, however the family got no monetary compensation. The cells themselves have been taken from Henrietta Lacks without permission or consent, as was the norm.

The author manages to touch on many subjects interrelated to society and science, as well as ask many tough questions about how we treat the less fortunate of our society and the state of healthcare in the pre AHA days. There are no good answers to these questions, there are no rights or wrongs, the Skoots felt they have been cheated by John Hopkins Medical Center, scientists believed they acted according to ethical standards of the time.
Many of these questions stay on the readers’ minds throughout the book without any straightforward answers, mainly because there are no straightforward answers.

The author managed to take a relatively boring story and turn it into an amazing book which one can learn much from. Sticking to the facts, Ms. Skoot manages to humanize those involved and tell a very personal story about science and society.

Buy this book in paper or elec­tor­nic format*

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer:I borrowed this book from the local library.
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

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One Comment

  • Elizabeth VollbachFebruary 20, 2015 at 9:10 am

    I read this book so do not need to win it.

    THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS is part examination of the HeLa cell, a cell taken from (not donated by) Henrietta Lacks when she was being treated at Johns Hopkins for cervical cancer. The other part of this book tells the story of Henrietta, and her family both before and after her death.

    The author of THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS, Rebecca Skloot, had the patience of a saint! She gave up years of her time in pursuit of information for this book, much of it wasted because of the family’s misunderstandings. And even when things appeared to be going well, a family member might suddenly mistrust her, again as a result of a misunderstanding.

    So much of this book is devoted to clearing up misunderstandings, I found it mostly frustrating. However, Skloot did clear up the misunderstandings.

    Skloot also related science in easy-to-understand language. It was a pleasure to read for that reason but also because, although I was aware of the various research projects she mentioned, I had not known how a minute cell had made them possible.

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