In the second half of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, after Henrietta dies and her cells continue to be used for science, her entire family still knows nothing, until Bobbette Lacks, Henrietta’s daughter in-law discovers that researchers have been using HeLa cells all along. When the scientists eventually did clue the family in on what was happening, they were very vague and didn’t thoroughly explain the science jargon to the poor black family. The family believed that they were being tested to see whether or not they had the same cancer that killed Henrietta when in fact the scientists just wanted blood samples from Henrietta’s immediate family for some tests. This later turned into a bigger deal than usual and the whole Lacks family was upset with Johns Hopkins Hospital. Later, when Skloot tries to reach out to the family, many members are hesitant to talk to her because they had talked to too many people that just wanted to write a simple story and they were tired of spending time on them. Eventually, Skloot developed a relationship with the family and began to get a more inside look of Henrietta’s life along with the rest of the family.
Rebecca Skloot continues to keep her writing interesting while giving the reader valid information. Skloot’s way of organizing this book is very helpful to the reader because even though it would be very easy to make this book all about science, she makes it easy for anyone to read, whether they are interested in science or not. I really enjoyed reading this book and although I am not particularly drawn to science, I could definitely see the reason behind others liking it. The way Skloot wrote this book created an emotional response to the reader toward the family and it was overall very entertaining.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Recommendations: If you like this book, I would suggest The Omnivore’s Dilemma and The Panic Virus: A True Story of Science, Medicine, and Fear.