In the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot introduces us to Henrietta Lacks, the "real-life woman" behind one of the greatest scientific advances ever discovered. Henrietta wasn't a scientist though, she was a black woman who's cervical cancer cells took on a life of their own after being harvested without her consent in 1951. These cells labeled as HeLa cells, became known as "the immortal cells" when they not only lived, but thrived outside of Henrietta's body. To date, more than fifty million metric tons have grown from that tiny unremarkable initial sampling. Scientists soon discovered that these cells were the perfect catalyst for engineering medication, understanding the nature of cancer, and revealing the aging process.
As a teenager in 1988, Rebecca Skloot was given a brief explanation of what HeLa cells were and thankfully, something about these mysterious cells sparked an interest that would turn into this work of non-fiction. It didn't take very long for Skloot to discover that although Henrietta's cells were biological celebrities, Henrietta died relatively unknown and certainly without knowledge of her contribution to science and humanity. Twenty years and innumerable scientific publications pass before Henrietta's family are even made aware of the HeLa cells' extraordinary life. Skloot traces the emotional rollercoaster and the toll it has taken on Henrietta's family. She befriends Deborah, Henrietta's daughter, who points out the paradox between the necessity of the HeLa cells and her struggle to pay for medication that only exists because of them.
Skloot treads the fine line between haunting biography and narrative scientific report. Her life and the lives of Henrietta's children, cousins, and kin are irrevocably intertwined. Skloot spent thousands of hours researching not only the human side of HeLa cells, but the scientific side, making this read as informative as it is engrossing. It's no small wonder that The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has sparked the interest in millions of readers world-wide. Skloot's devotion to the business of fact-finding does not bog down the narrative nature of this biography and her no-holds-barred approach to writing makes it an approachable work.
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Paperback Hardcover ISBN 1400052181 EAN 9781400052189 Target Group Publisher Broadway Books Publish Date Mar 8, 2011 Copyright Date Jan 1, 1970 Binding Paperback 9781400052172 9781400052172 Crown Publishers Jan 1, 2010 Jan 1, 2010 Hardcover