Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells – taken without her knowledge in 1951 – became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew.
(Story synopsis from Broadway Books paperback edition; cover image from goodreads.com)
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I first started reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. I’m not a science-minded personal in general (although I do love reading about and learning about psychology), and I knew that the Biomedical class at the high school I work at had read part of the book, but I hadn’t heard much about it from the students. I also don’t remember ever hearing about Henrietta Lacks before. However, I was given the book to read by someone who thought I might enjoy it. At the time I was given the book I was in the middle of reading Half the Sky, and so The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was set to the side for a little while.
When I did finally get a chance to start reading Rebecca Skloot’s nonfiction novel Continue reading