Yiftach Levy's Reviews > The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
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Mar 04, 2012

it was amazing
Read from February 28 to March 03, 2012

This is a lifechanging book, not just for the reader, but for its subjects and author as well. Rebecca Skloot is a masterful storyteller, effortlessly transporting us across space and time in the first two thirds of the book. We learn about the human being behind the most famous cell line in scientific history, HeLa, while simultaneously delving into the lives of the first doctors and researchers who had access to the patient and her cells. All the while, Skloot heightens the dramatic tension involved in bringing this story to life by clueing us in to the challenges in contacting Henrietta Lacks's family and earning her relatives' trust. In the final chapters, she sprints through her developing relationship and ultimate close bond with HeLa's daughter, Deborah, then provides a much-needed "Where are they now" section, bringing the reader up to date with the HeLa's descendants: fascinating, vulnerable, frail, hopeful, powerful, and inspirational. I found myself getting through these latter chapters as if on an adrenaline rush, energized by the countless "if this wasn't meticulously researched nonfiction I wouldn't believe it" moments earlier in the book. I lost count of the number of times I exclaimed "Oh my god!", "No way!", "Get outta here!", and "Are you !@#$%^ kidding me?!" while reading this. You will be moved, too. Read it now.
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