No Spoiler Reader Reaction: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks


Kiley Girard

Book/Author: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Genre/Subject: Science/Non-fiction 

Pages: 381

Stars: 4 out of 5 stars

Challenging Read: Not particularly but readers should be prepared to have a basic understanding of biology (mainly cells), yet a good amount is explained in the book. Also, readers should be prepared for multiple personal stories that are told, many with heavy topics such as unjust treatment of black people, mainly focusing on the 1950s-now. 

What I liked: This book illustrates a story of a real person, Henrietta Lacks, and how she is one of the most important parts of science. This book sets out to tell her and her family’s true story about the way cancerous cervical cells taken from Henrietta’s body are the reason for a multitude of scientific advances, yet no one really gives her credit or knows who she is. The author took on a personal role to understand the family and their experiences/emotions regarding Henrietta’s story. 

What could have been better: If you are only interested in the science parts of this book, there are chapters that include many aspects of family drama and telling each family member’s story. So, you could revisit these chapters after, if you want to learn about Henrietta’s role in science first.

Recommended: Highly recommend! A great book for those interested in ethics, science, and listening to a story that rarely gets told (truthfully).