Unless you live under a rock, you have probably heard about this book. Still, I’ll give you a brief overview just in case you’ve been trapped in a time capsule. Henrietta Lacks was an African-American woman who lived in Maryland when she felt a hard ball on her cervix. Having no health insurance and little money, she went to Johns Hopkins where they removed her tumor and took some of her cells for future testing. However, the doctors did this without anyone’s knowledge or approval. Though Henrietta eventually died from this cancer, her cells became the first immortal cells. Since her death, they’ve been used in thousands of experiments in numerous field. Though people have made millions on Henrietta’s cells, her family saw none of the money and still has no health insurance.
|Killing of Cancer Cell|
What makes this book so fantastic is that the author takes a holistic approach to her writing. She doesn’t simply focus on the science of the cells but spends an equal amount of time on Henrietta’s family and their history. This adds an emotional edge that left me crying at times, which a book strictly on cells would never do (unless I was crying with boredom). The most exceptional aspect of the book is how well researched it is. Clearly, Henrietta’s family has been misrepresented since the 1950s. Fortunately, the author took years to get to know the family, understand their plight, and write objectively. I could ramble on for pages and pages but I will end by saying this: “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” is by far one of the best books I have read in my entire life (and I read a lot).