The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
This genre-defying narrative combines history, science, memoir, and biography. You’ve been affected by the HeLa cells derived from Maryland woman Henrietta Lacks, called “immortal” because they thrive in the lab: they’ve been used to develop the polio vaccine, cure cancer, and fight the flu. But her family didn’t discover anything about the cells until more than twenty years after her 1951 death. Skloot unearths the incredible story of how that happened, weaving the tale of the HeLa cells together with Lacks’ personal narrative.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew.