Press enter after choosing selection

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Skloot, Rebecca, 1972- Book - 2010 616.027 Sk, Black Studies 616.027 Sk, Adult Book / Nonfiction / Biography / General / Lacks, Henrietta None on shelf 4 requests on 11 copies Community Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Cover image for The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks

Sign in to request

Location & Checkout Length Call Number Checkout Length Item Status
Downtown 2nd Floor
4-week checkout
616.027 Sk 4-week checkout Canceled Transit
Downtown 2nd Floor
4-week checkout
616.027 Sk 4-week checkout Due 03-24-2023
Downtown 2nd Floor
4-week checkout
616.027 Sk 4-week checkout Due 04-16-2023
Downtown 2nd Floor
4-week checkout
Black Studies 616.027 Sk 4-week checkout Due 04-16-2023
Malletts Adult Books
4-week checkout
Adult Book / Nonfiction / Biography / General / Lacks, Henrietta 4-week checkout Due 03-24-2023
Malletts Adult Books
4-week checkout
Adult Book / Nonfiction / Biography / General / Lacks, Henrietta 4-week checkout Due 04-11-2023
Malletts Adult Books
4-week checkout
Adult Book / Nonfiction / Biography / General / Lacks, Henrietta 4-week checkout Due 03-28-2023
Pittsfield Adult Books
4-week checkout
Adult Book / Nonfiction / Biography / General / Lacks, Henrietta 4-week checkout Due 03-28-2023
Pittsfield Adult Books
4-week checkout
Adult Book / Nonfiction / Biography / General / Lacks, Henrietta 4-week checkout Due 04-06-2023
Traverwood Adult Books
4-week checkout
Adult Book / Nonfiction / Biography / General / Lacks, Henrietta 4-week checkout Due 03-19-2023
Traverwood Adult Books
4-week checkout
Adult Book / Nonfiction / Biography / General / Lacks, Henrietta 4-week checkout Due 03-15-2023


Summary / Annotation
Fiction Profile
Author Notes
Library Journal Review
Booklist Review
Publishers Weekly Review
Table of Contents


Great stories! submitted by ingahuff on February 8, 2011, 7:51pm This is a could not put down book. I loved the stories that are told in this story about the Hela cell line. You'll learn about where they came from, the family behind them, as well as the science advances that has come from them. Plus here is a link to read about how the profits from the book are benefiting Henrietta Lacks family.

Brilliant book submitted by marielle on June 23, 2011, 10:29pm I remember vividly sitting in my freshman high school biology class and learning about Hela cells for the first time. I was struck by the story; how one woman's tragic death changed the face of science, and how we knew so little about her. That was in 1999. Now Skloot has published this book, and that's changed- at least a little- and for that I'm grateful.

As for the book itself, it does both Henrietta Lacks and the science behind her cells justice. The book is the perfect blend of human story-telling and science, of empathy and fact.

good submitted by joiemma on July 7, 2011, 3:19pm good

LOVED this book!! submitted by paully37 on August 4, 2011, 5:40pm This book is WONDERFUL! The author melds history, anthropology, science and story telling so perfectly. I learned from and totally enjoyed this book.

Fabulous! submitted by fizzleskittle on June 24, 2012, 5:44pm This is so well written! Not my usual genre choice, but I couldn't put it down!

Great! Love this!!! VERY NICE! submitted by BelalGazali on June 27, 2012, 5:35pm Great! Love this!!! VERY NICE!

Great book submitted by ashflowtuff on June 28, 2012, 12:39pm Everyone should read this book. It tackles the really complicated ethics of medical research, as well as tells the very personal story of Henrietta Lacks and her family. Great stuff.

eye opener submitted by unknown on July 5, 2012, 10:46pm This book will open your eyes to the ruthlessness of research

Great submitted by HY Qiu on July 23, 2012, 1:47pm Great

Intriguing submitted by andy101 on August 7, 2012, 3:38pm This book was unbelievable and very well-written. Rebecca Skloot did a great job in putting together all of the different aspects of this remarkable story, from the science behind the HeLa cells to the history of the Lacks family. This book can appeal to almost anyone because it will almost immediately grab the attention of such a diverse array of interests; it can fascinate a science lover, it can draw in someone who is interested in race relations, etc. Once I got started, I couldn't stop reading. It seemed as if something new and exciting was happening in the story with every turn of the page, and that's because there was.

I would strongly recommend this book for anyone with an appreciation for science and for the drama of the human experience. However, I don't think that this book would be best for kids under 13, just because the book deals with some pretty mature topics as well as some difficult medical and scientific topics (and besides, it's at a high school reading level).

Highly recommended submitted by Susan4Pax -prev. sueij- on August 14, 2013, 8:36pm What a fascinating scientific and cultural and societal story! Medical protocols were a different world when the HeLa cells were taken from Henrietta Lacks, and much has changed. Race played a huge and complicating role in what happened to her and her family in the years following, but the scientific and medical progress is incontrovertible.

The author does an amazing job blending science and human interest stories into a readable story that will pull you in thoroughly. Highly, highly recommended.

Interesting Read submitted by SolaireFQ on July 19, 2016, 7:24pm This book is worth a read for the ethics in science issues that it brings up. However I did not find it well written.

Henrietta Lacks submitted by mrondo on June 17, 2017, 10:13pm I don't often read nonfiction, but I am so glad I read this book!
It is a captivating, though also tragic, story. Rebecca Skloot's writing is wonderful and addicting.
This book raises interesting questions about ethics and ownership in scientific research.

Fascinating submitted by krathje on August 19, 2017, 9:59am This book is fascinating. If you are interested in biology, race, civil rights, history, science, disease, or just humanity, give it a shot.

Phenomenal submitted by jbranski on June 16, 2018, 10:29pm This book is amazing. Truly a fascinating look at the most biologically significant strain of cells in history and the life of the woman they were taken from. This is a story from another era of medical history - before informed consent and patient privacy laws. And an informative story of how medical care intersects with issues of race, class, and who has a right to benefit from human subjects research.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks submitted by leighsprauer on November 19, 2018, 4:38pm The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is the story of the woman whose cervical cancer cells became the first "immortal" line, kept alive for decades and immeasurably important to medical and scientific research ever since her premature death. The irony is that Lacks herself was all but lost to history; Skloot does a tremendous job in researching and presenting all the information she can about Lacks, a poor, uneducated, African American woman who unknowingly bequeathed humanity with her invaluable cells. Skloot spent years researching and interviewing members of Lacks' family, as well as members of the scientific community who were involved in what became known as the HeLa cell line. She also touches on the broader historical and social issues of informed consent (especially as it relates to African Americans) and of legal ownership of our tissues and DNA.
I only gave the book 3 stars because I think Skloot lingers a bit too much on the lives of Lacks' children. Although they are of course an important source, and although their relationship with their mother's legacy is a primary part of the story, I think a lot of detail could have been edited out without losing the key parts of the story. Skloot seems to be attempting a quasi-biography of Lacks' daughter, in particular. Unfortunately, she strays too far from the central story of Lacks' life and legacy.
Despite this shortcoming, I would highly recommend this book, both because of its importance in American history and because it is simply a fascinating story.

sucks submitted by gogo on June 17, 2019, 5:57pm suck1

Great Book! submitted by irashes on July 30, 2019, 7:42pm This book was a fantastic read! I learned so much about genetics, science, and history- including the racial inequalities found throughout the medical world that have led us to where we are today. A must-read for everyone!

Narrative Non Fiction MUST READ submitted by gwenenelson on August 5, 2019, 9:11pm Wow. You will be stunned, outraged, and motivated to know more about this amazing woman. She is owed so much for all of the medical advance made possible by her.

Important topic to discuss submitted by Xris on August 20, 2019, 12:45am What should happen to our cells when they have been taken from our bodies? Should we have a say in how they are used, who can use them?
I was worried that this book would be hard to get through, but it wasn't at all! Rebecca did a great job of telling the story of Henrietta Lacks and her family, while also covering the science to go with the cells that continue to live on and help the biotech/research industry. So glad to see that she also started a foundation to benefit the Lacks family and others in similar situations. Now I need to research how this topic has played out in the courts and life...

HeLa cells are important to know about submitted by crp on August 29, 2019, 1:59pm A wonderful sociological inquiry into one of science's most important discoveries, and the ethics behind cell line propagation without permission or credit! I personally remember using HeLa cells in lab and wondering where did these come from? This book provides a valuable backstory to a cell line that has been propagated and sold around the world, and the story of Henrietta Lacks and her family is unforgettable.

Important Topic submitted by mountainous on July 13, 2020, 10:55am This book got me back into reading non fiction. A compelling story that is seldom told but is important. It digs into ethics in science and is an important read for anyone going into a STEM field.

Important submitted by Anthany on July 14, 2020, 9:26am Important life

HeLa submitted by pchao on August 10, 2020, 11:22am Get to know the story of HeLa cells that are used in most genetic research. This book provides historical context to the science.

A story that needed to be told submitted by avandeusen on July 17, 2021, 10:25am The story of Henrietta Lacks is incredibly important for us to know about, however the writing itself loses a bit of edge.

Great Read! submitted by fatismata on July 20, 2021, 1:11pm I read this as an assignment for my Biology class and honestly, Henrietta's contribution to modern science/medicine should be recognized by more people.

Wow submitted by Harlowamy on August 28, 2021, 5:13pm Fascinating story

Good read with important scientific and historical information that the general public needs to know submitted by delaflynn on August 29, 2021, 2:44am This should be required reading before students graduate from high school. Might give future scientists a more robust personal ethical code to guide the work they do.

Wonderful submitted by bcartm01 on June 21, 2022, 8:07pm I read this book during my medical training and feel that it should be required reading for any medical professional. I loved this book with or without my background in the medical field.

Must read submitted by leah karr on August 5, 2022, 12:24am The importance of medical consent will be felt after reading this book. Everyone should read this

Interesting read for STEM students submitted by paserbamr on August 18, 2022, 11:02am Would recommend to all STEM students, especially those that maintain cell cultures. It's always important to consider bioethical topics such as medical consent when conducting any form of research.

Great book submitted by meileen on August 28, 2022, 11:30am Really easy to read and great information! Important for any scientist, student, or individual interested in medical research

Cover image for The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks

New York : Crown Publishers, c2010.
Year Published: 2010
Description: 369 p.
Language: English
Format: Book


Lacks, Henrietta, -- 1920-1951 -- Health.
Cancer -- Patients -- Virginia -- Biography.
African American women -- History.
Human experimentation in medicine -- United States -- History.
HeLa cells.
Cancer -- Research.
Cell culture.
Medical ethics.