I've had the physical paperback of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot for years now. I have been meaning to read this nonfiction book since I obtained it as I've heard nothing but good things about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.
Since I've procrastinated on reading the physical version of this book, I finally downloaded and listened to the Audible edition of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot on my Kindle as I'm an audiobook junkie these days!
I still love reading books, but sometimes listening to a well narrated book can be so much more fun. Plus, I can do other things (like knit) while listening to audiobooks.
Back to reviewing The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. I found The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks to be both a fascinating and a bit overwhelming read at the same time. The various subjects discussed were fascinating and well organized... But the amount of diverse information packed into this book was a bit overwhelming at times as there was so much great information presented throughout the entire book itself.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot covers not only the life of Henrietta Lacks, her family's history, and the lives of her descendants... But it also covers many other subjects like the fact that Henrietta Lacks's cells were the first immortal human cells grown in culture and how her cells have played a vital role in medicine.
I also found parts of the book to be difficult to take in as I listened to the audio version of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks... The way in which Henrietta Lacks was treated as a patient and how much she suffered during her cancer treatment was difficult to stomach. Also, the history of how African Americans have been mistreated in US history is highlighted (the medical experimentation on African Americans for example), and the fact that "scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent" had me shaking my head.
Bioethics becomes a big topic in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. I learned a lot of eye opening stuff about bioethics that I didn't know about before through listening to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
Listening time for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is 12 hours, 30 minutes. It's well narrated by Cassandra Campbell and Bahni Turpin. So if you're a fan of audiobooks, then I recommend listening to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.
Below is the publisher's summary for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot from Audible:
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells, taken without her knowledge, became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first immortal human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than 60 years.
If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they'd weigh more than 50 million metric tons - as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings.
HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bombs effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.
Now, Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the colored ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henriettas small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia, a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo, to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.
Henrietta's family did not learn of her immortality until more than 20 years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family, past and present, is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.I'm giving The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.
Until my next post, happy reading!!