Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks published in 2010 relates to a non–fiction book by American writer Rebecca Skloot. It was given an award in the year 2011 by the National Academics Communication. It was bestowed for the best creative work that assisted the public in the appreciation of topics in science and medicine. The author has worked as a communicator for NPR's Radio Lab and currently is a contributing editor at a popular science magazine. Besides, Rebecca Skloot is an anterior president of the National Book critics and has trained in creative non-fiction and science journalism at the University of Memphis. Consequently, the Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks was a presentation novel and turn out to be an instant New York bestseller. The novel was published by the Crown publishing group. The address of the Crown publishing group is 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, USA and the Zip code of the publishing company is 10019.

The novel tells the story of want happened to Henrietta Lacks. It describes of want occurred when part of the body of Henrietta Lacks was taken away from her. Consequently, the novel explores on who Henrietta was, where she came from and the occasions that put her in the sickbay and finally what executed her. Again, the novel tells us more on the legacy that women left in the realm of science. Henrietta Lacks was a native of Roanoke, Virginia born on August 1, 1920. Consequently, her mother Eliza Lacks pass on while giving birth.

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Henrietta's father Johnny pleasant was impatient to raise ten children, therefore, he decided to take them to Clover, Virginia. Henrietta received shelter from her grandfather and her cousin David Lacks. In the stay of Henrietta with her grandfather, we find that she shared a bedroom with David and the results are they started having children together. Henrietta bore five children who were Lawrence, Elsie, Sonny, Deborah, and Joe. Joe later transformed his name to Zakariyya. We are told that a week before noting she was pregnant with Joe, Henrietta had communicated to some of her cousins that she had a baby inside her. Five months well ahead after labor she went and sees the doctor.

The doctor referred her to the John Hopkins gynecology clinic. The physician named Howard Jones told her that he had seen many thousand cervical cancer lesions but she had never seen anything like what was inside Henrietta. He further went ahead and was able to cut a sample and sent it to the pathology lab where it was to be further handled and investigated by Mary Kubicek. Mary Kubicek was a person of good reputation and handled numerous cells. Similarly, dr. jones labeled the culture 'Hela' for Henrietta and lacks then took it to the incubator room. Subsequently, four days later, George Gey a leader of the laboratory discovered that the cells were increasing with a mythological amount. He also discovered that the cells were doubling their numbers every twenty-four hours. George Gay went ahead and gave some of his closest friend of the cultures of immortal cells. On the contrary, Henrietta never knew that her cells had been hauled out and retained in labs. She just continued with her life knowing nothing. In September 1951, Henrietta‘s body was surpassed with swellings. They had developed on her diaphragm, bladder, and liver which blocked her intestines. The tumors made her stomach swell. She discovered the fate of her life that she was going to die soon. She finally died on October 4, 1951.

Henrietta's family did not really know that her cells were almost in every lab until in the year 1973. Lawrence wife Bobbette found that her mother-in-law's cells were reserved from an associate brother who had lately done an experiment with them. Lawrence called Hopkins to confirm this, but they denied the charges that no record of patient entitled to Henrietta Lacks was in their books. The other children tried to distance themselves from reporters after that. Deborah on the other side had anxiety with what little information she had about her mother cells. Due to this, she constantly had horror attacks when talking about her mother. Deborah was constantly been convinced by one reporter named Rebecca Skloot to talk and tell him more and what she knows about the death of his mother. They spent a lot of time together after that where the two become best friends. They moved to the home house where Henrietta grew up.

Rebecca advised Deborah and Zakariyya to meet with the lab technician to learn more about their mother’s the zeal of learning about their mother's cells this is the time Zakariyya talked openly about his mother. Skloot had promised Deborah that they will be able to see her mother cells and figure out what transpired to Henrietta's sister, Elsie. Rebecca and Deborah made a deliberate action that they will go out on a road trip to find any information they could about Elsie. They were amused to hear that Elsie was admitted to the hospital for Negro insane. She was claimed to be mentally retarded and was seen as an insane person. At the end when Deborah died, her closest friend Rebecca became more devastated about it since Deborah was one of the best friends.

The main purpose of writing this book was to enlighten and clarify from whom the world-famous Hela cells were coined from. It's amazing because when the author first learned about Hela cells she was obsessed with them. Again, the author intended the book to be read by anyone interested in science. Some of the themes in this book include suffering, mortality, and ethics, the supernatural, science immortality among others.

I am encouraged and motivated by this book because of the author’s sincerity and integrity in addressing some of the ethical issues. The author was able to tell us the story of life in poverty of a black family in America. Life is full of abuse and hopelessness not been considered as they are actual human beings. I like how the author has addressed the ethical question of experimenting with Afro-Americans.

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Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 16, 2024, from
“Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” Edubirdie, 12 Aug. 2022,
Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 16 Jul. 2024].
Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 12 [cited 2024 Jul 16]. Available from:

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