Pam's Reviews > The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
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's review
Jan 21, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: womyn-s-book-club-selections, favorites
Read from February 02 to 19, 2012

To say that reading this book isn't painful and challenging would be a lie. It is VERY painful in places and VERY challenging in others. Rebecca Skloot put together a very thorough and informative journey through her research of an important but relatively unknown part of OUR history. Black history, women's history, and medical history.

Most of you know the story of Henrietta Lacks, how she was stricken with a terminal case of cervical cancer and how, while (ultimately unsuccessfully) treating her for her cancer, harvested cells from her tumor and grew probably the most influential cell line in the history of medicine. HeLa, as the cell line is known, have helped doctors and scientists make incredible advances such as the polio vaccine, rabies, insight into invitro fertilization, research in gene mapping and cloning, the effects of atom bombs on human cells...and the list literally goes on AND on.

So yes. This book discusses the science-y aspects of the HeLa cell line, its contributions to medical advancement, its contributions to medical regression, and the debate over whether or not harvesting the cells of a human being without their knowledge or consent is a violation of their basic rights.

However, this book is SO much more than that. This book is an in depth look into Henrietta's life beyond her cells and cervical cancer. It's a look into how her untimely death and the aftermath affected her children. It's a look into the future Lacks generations. And, probably the BEST of all...we get to meet a lovable, determine, and STRONG (strong, do you hear me?) woman by the name of Deborah(Dale) Lacks. She will capture your heart...and everything you read about her is real.

The medical terms and the science, although necessary for this book, get to be a bit much at times. I was joking in my discussion that at times I had to be like my daughter and break out my reading finger. :) But I am so much more enriched thanks to this book. So, although painful, and a bit much at times - this book was necessary. I think Rebecca Skloot did her very best and for that, she gets my support and good rating.


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02/03/2012 page 34
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