Meg - A Bookish Affair's Reviews > The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
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's review
Nov 15, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2011, non-fiction, science
Read from November 15 to 16, 2011

I had heard a ton of really good things about this book but just hadn't gotten around to reading it yet so I was very excited when my book club picked to read the book. I ended up having to buy a copy (my book club is usually pretty good about picking books that are already at the library to lessen the burden on us) because there was still a crazy long wait list at the library and the book is already almost two years old! I always get excited about books that have been out for awhile but still have a long wait to read.

I was entranced with this book. A decade in the making, Skloot explores the legacy of Henrietta Lacks, a little known woman, whose cells have helped scientists do really amazing things. Her cells have been launched into space. They've helped to make vaccines. They've been tested on by many different people and until this book, many people didn't really even know the name of the woman that the cells came from. All this from someone's cells being taken without her knowing. Although the idea of having one's cells taken without their knowledge does bring up sort of a ethical dilemma, that is not really the crux of the book. Skloot does present the dilemma but this is really more of a human story. It would have been nice to get a little more information on the dilemma though.

Admittedly, I'm not a science person. I'm fascinated by science but I'll put it this way, I hated sitting in my high school and college science classes. Obviously the subject matter of the book is science-y but Skloot does a great job of making the science-y parts of the book accessible to all. The real story at the heart of this book is the story of Lacks' family finding out all of the things that Henrietta's cells have done. Really amazing!

Bottom line: I know some of you are afraid of non-fiction books but this one is really wonderful and I hope that you will give it a try!
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