Yofish's Reviews > The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
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U 50x66
's review
Mar 28, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: read-science-y
Read in August, 2013

Really more like 3.5

The scientific story of the cells was really interestinng, and I wish she had spent more time on it. She kept wanting to sell me on the invasion of privacy, but I just didn't get that at all. Yeah, it wouldn't have been done today, but... well, it wasn't done today. There didn't really seem to be anyone who maliciously profited.

And I ended up being a bit scared of the family. Going in, and maybe partway into the book, the idea of giving money to the family for their service/suffering. Sure, why not. Why not? Because they're batshit crazy! I don't want them anywhere near money that was once mine.

Again, the scientific story was interesting, and I'd like to understand more. (When I first told my father, a biologist for 40 years, about the book, he said "They always told us HeLa was Helen Lane.") But I feel she only scratched the surface. She told us the cells were important instead of really showing us. The part where the HeLa cells had "contaminated" pretty much every study for ten or so years was interesting---I'd've liked to have heard more about how/when they got around that. Is it still a big problem?

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