Maggie Wiggins's Reviews > The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
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's review
Jul 15, 10

bookshelves: memoirs-and-nonfiction

Skloot did an admirable thing in writing this book: she gave an identity to someone we didn't know we couldn't live without. Lacks has an interesting story, but it doesn't grab me the way I would have liked it to. The blending of medical science and the Lacks family feels choppy and could have used more editing, IMO. It felt like the author and editor were very much at odds, and you can tell in the writing. Additionally, Lacks' daughter Deborah serves as a major character, and I can't stand her. I understand how unfair the situation was on their family (they didn't see a dime of the profits from her mother's cells), but she's a very unsympathetic character and I had a hard time enjoying the book when she appeared on the page. I especially enjoyed the carefully researched retellings of Lacks' childhood. Writing this as more of a memoir and less of an expose would have made this a much more cohesive work, IMO

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