The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

By Rebecca Skloot

  • Release Date: 2010-02-02
  • Genre: Life Sciences
Score: 4.5
From 1,679 Ratings
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Now an HBO® Film starring Oprah Winfrey and Rose Byrne


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.


  • Very Educational!

    By Msaintlouis1988
    Henrietta contributed so much to science with her cancerous cells! It’s amazing to know that they are still being used today! What I enjoyed is the education of science by learning about cell culture in this book, the education of informed consent, the education of Black people and experiments in America’s medical history. I loved how the book also discusses Henrietta’s Family and her family history. I wish she knew how much she helped medical science so much! Very great book!
  • Wonderful read!!

    By Fire Trustee
    I became aware of this book when Oprah appeared on "The Talk" 2 days ago. I downloaded it yesterday and read it beginning to end in barely 24 hours! I couldn't put it down!! Can hardly wait to watch the movie adaptation Saturday evening! Very intriguing, informative, and thought-provoking!
  • Fascinating Read

    By pmritagirl
    I bought this book while I was a patient at Hopkins. I heard about the story on local news and was interested to learn who she was and how important HeLa cells are to the world of medicine. Thank you Henrietta- you in essence helped save my life.
  • great read

    By Maurisajoi
    I'm in high school and this was one of the books I was required to read. I absolutely fell in love with it and suggest it to everyone i know.
  • Must Read

    By ohcampoh03
    I was completely moved every time I turned the page of this book. This is a must read story. Rebecca Skloot did a tremendous job portraying all aspects of the story. She was able to describe her journey to gather all the information, Henrietta’s life story, Henrietta’s family, and the science involved. This also conveyed many questions and theories after every single chapter. This broadened a mystery which tests human ethics and morals. With so much happening, Skloot dissected even the smallest events in order to give her audience a deciding factor of what to make about the book. There is no wonder, this novel received so many accolades. The science of this book is very interesting. Skloot was able to describe and define every detail in order to give her audience the best understanding about medical terms. The tone of this story allowed me to be alongside Skloot in her journey about the mystery of Mrs. Henrietta Lacks’s cells. I highly recommend this book for its roller coaster round of events and emotions.
  • Awesome Book

    By Skedo
    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is an interesting book, the author, Rebecca Skloot does a magnificent job in writing this book. She puts a lot of effort in writing this book as well, from first hearing about the life and significance of Henrietta Lacks when she was 16 up until a couple years ago. Skloot does incredibly awesome in blending science in the book. She is very clear and precise when she explains what mitosis is, and the functions of cells, HeLa cells in particular. Then she explains how the Lacks family went through struggles and tribulations because of the cells that belonged to their beloved wife, and mother. Reading this book helped me improve on showing empathy towards other people, if you are interested in biology and medicine, this is definitely the book for you. This book teaches many important lessons that can be used in our world today, from life in poverty, to racism, the dark history of American medical research, this book has it all.
  • The Imomortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks

    By Rayaroo97
    I read this book for my college reading class and I found it to be one of the most interesting books I have ever read. From start to finish Rebecca Skloot does a magnificent job captivating and disecting the true story of a black woman who recieved medical care at Johns Hopkins in the fifties. Henrietta, the patient, unknowingly, had her cells taken from her for science experiments. Although her cells did revoloutinize medicine, it also questions the ethics of medicine. Skloot also takes a look on the family of Henrietta. They did not recieve anyh benefit from the millions probably made off of her cells, even though they were dirt poor. The format was easy to follow and very informational. Skloot did a fantastic job at capturing, what i believe to be, the truth. i learned so much about cell culture, law, medicine, and history all in one excellent book.
  • Good Read

    By Anelson97
    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was not just a normal book. It did much more than tell a story. Of course it did include a story about a woman who contributed to a drastic part of the medical industry, but it was so much more than that. This book brings up moral and ethical issues that allow you to form a standpoint in which you believe. Is it correct to take a part of someone’s DNA without permission? Is our own body really even our own? Does it belong to only us? Should the woman who had her DNA taken away from her without consent, that shortly died after, have her family provided with health insurance so they can go see a doctor at least? Is it right that corporations are making millions but her family can’t even get health insurance? This book raises so many questions. The downside is a lot of biology and medical talk, but otherwise this is a great book.
  • the immortal life of Henrietta Lacks

    By Gammer1308
    I very much enjoyed this book. It is great for anyone who likes science and medical terminology. Skloot does a good job at keeping the reader interested in the book. It is a very educational and eye opening book. It shows you how the medical field was not very professional back in the day. As well, it shows how the medical field works with taking out tissue and who is in control of our body parts after they are taken out. It gives us a look at the research behind medicine and vaccines that you usually don't think about. The story is a compelling mix between medicine and the family behind a lady who changed the world of medicine. It shows the economic side of medicine. The book sometimes makes you angry for reasons that are acceptable. It has an emotional appeal to the reader. Overall, great book for anyone in college and above.
  • Great Read

    By JBransonAPU
    This book is a means he keeps you guessing every chapter and throws a curveball almost every minute. The whole entire time you're reading your trying to guess what happens next but we think happens turns out to be the complete opposite. The book is a great and brings up a lot of very interesting questions about medical ethics.