Rebecca's Reviews > The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
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's review
Jul 21, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: pop-science, biography-memoir, read2011
Read from March 29 to April 01, 2011

This was on EVERYONE's best of 2010 list. For good reason, it turns out. Wow. The intersection of sensitive writing, stranger-than-sci-fi story, and medical ethics is captivating. What sticks in my mind, though, is a mild criticism from a reviewer I generally trust. He took issue with the word "immortal" in the title and the credence that Henrietta's living cells give Henrietta herself eternal life. For me, though, the author takes the tension in that theme and runs with it. What we get is an evolving conflict between two worldviews. The way the scientific community values a medical subject and defines cell immortality vs the way the uneducated Lacks family value their wife and mother, express their spirituality, and come to terms with a painful history. Skloot manages to be a sort of insider to both sides, in a tale of investigative reporting turned sociology turned friendship. Mmm, I get chills just thinking about how good this book is. Go read it already!

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