A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER NOW ADAPTED INTO A HBO FILM STARRING OPRAH WINFREY & ROSE BYRNE
"No dead woman has done more for the living . . . A fascinating, harrowing, necessary book" Hilary Mantel, The Guardian
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. Born a poor black tobacco farmer, her cancer cells - taken without her knowledge - became a multimillion-dollar industry and one of the most important tools in medicine. Yet Henrietta's family did not learn of her 'immortality' until more than twenty years after her death, with devastating consequences . . .
Rebecca Skloot's fascinating account is the story of the life, and afterlife, of one woman who changed the medical world forever. Balancing the beauty and drama of scientific discovery with dark questions about who owns the stuff our bodies are made of, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is an extraordinary journey in search of the soul and story of a real woman, whose cells live on today in all four corners of the world.
PRAISE FOR THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS
"One of the most graceful and moving non-fiction books I've read in a very long time" Dwight Garner, New York Times
"An extraordinary mix of memoir and science reveals the story of how one woman's cells have saved countless lives" Daily Telegraph
"A heartbreaking account of racism and injustice . . . Moving and magnificent" Metro
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Henrietta Lacks was a poor black American woman who died in 1951 of cervical cancer. Her singularly fertile cells—scraped from a tumour before her death and cultured without her knowledge—spawned a cell line that has been instrumental in several great advances of the modern age. Meanwhile, her family remained in poverty. Rebecca Skloot narrates the true story of Lacks’ legacy with sensitivity and conviction, performing science journalism and playing the role of historical witness.
Science journalist Skloot makes a remarkable debut with this multilayered story about faith, science, journalism, and grace. It is also a tale of medical wonders and medical arrogance, racism, poverty and the bond that grows, sometimes painfully, between two very different women Skloot and Deborah Lacks sharing an obsession to learn about Deborah s mother, Henrietta, and her magical, immortal cells. Henrietta Lacks was a 31-year-old black mother of five in Baltimore when she died of cervical cancer in 1951. Without her knowledge, doctors treating her at Johns Hopkins took tissue samples from her cervix for research. They spawned the first viable, indeed miraculously productive, cell line known as HeLa. These cells have aided in medical discoveries from the polio vaccine to AIDS treatments. What Skloot so poignantly portrays is the devastating impact Henrietta s death and the eventual importance of her cells had on her husband and children. Skloot s portraits of Deborah, her father and brothers are so vibrant and immediate they recall Adrian Nicole LeBlanc s Random Family. Writing in plain, clear prose, Skloot avoids melodrama and makes no judgments. Letting people and events speak for themselves, Skloot tells a rich, resonant tale of modern science, the wonders it can perform and how easily it can exploit society s most vulnerable people.