The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is an astounding and thought-provoking study of the woman behind the immortal line of HeLa cells that have been invaluable to medical research since they were first cultured in 1951. Skloot takes readers on a journey through the life of Henrietta Lacks, a poor African-American tobacco farmer from Virginia, by visiting and speaking with remaining members of the Lacks family. She soon learns that Henrietta’s cells were essentially “stolen” because no one in the Lacks family was ever asked if her cells could be used and replicated for research purposes, and it wasn’t until decades after her death that her children discovered that “HeLa” cells were actually cultured from the very cancer cells that killed their mother.
Skloot investigates and seamlessly combines sadness, humor, family anecdotes, and scientific fact in this inspiring true story of the amazing life of the Lacks family; a family so poor and mistreated that despite their mother’s cells producing great advances in medical research, they were still unable to afford medical insurance for essential medications that Henrietta’s cells had in fact helped to manufacture. This book has won numerous prestigious awards and it is not at all a scientific textbook. In fact, Oprah Winfrey and HBO plan to make Henrietta’s life story into a movie within the next few years! This New York Times bestseller is a true story of a family that has had a tremendous impact on the world today and I highly recommend it for anyone in the mood for an interesting and captivating read! Enjoy!