Katie's Reviews > The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
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's review
Dec 29, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: allow-myself-to-introduce-myself, book-club, she-blinded-me-with-science
Read in December, 2010

More than the sum of the actual book, the story behind Henrietta Lacks--and specifically, her cells--is one of the most engrossing, thought-provoking things I've read in 2010.

I do think it's worthy to learn about the woman who, unbeknownst to her, made one of the most important contributions to 20th century science when the cells cultured from her cancerous tumors (HeLa) multiplied like wildfire, allowing researchers and scientists to study and find cures for disease. Sadly, the "Henrietta Lacks" part was less interesting to me than the "Immortal."*

I wanted to read more about the cells themselves: what they've done for science, how the related discoveries were, uh, discovered, what impact they may potentially make in the future, etc. Also, the question of biological ownership and the right to patent cells deserves to be a book of its own. Maybe it already is. If so, tell me about it, because I want to buy it.

*Terrible of me, I know, because more than anything, Henrietta's daughter wanted people to know about her mother and that there was a woman behind HeLa. That's not to say her history wasn't interesting--it is, but just not AS interesting as the rest of the book. Why do I feel like a bad person for writing that?! I feel like I owe Henrietta an apology.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Beth (new)

Beth http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore_v....
That was the big case we read in property law, anyway :)

message 2: by Beth (new)

Beth Too funny - I just realized all the references in the Wikipedia article are to Skloot. I guess it's on point!

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