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    March 4, 2011

    Book Groups! Have you discussed The Immortal Life? What’s the issue that got you talking the most? Share your story.


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    If your book group is reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, we’d like to hear about it. Tell us about your experiences with the book—both as a group and as individual readers. What surprised you about it? What was most unexpected? What parts of Henrietta’s story stayed with you the longest? What topics did your group spend the most time discussing? Was there any controversy? Do you have any suggestions for other book groups? Do have any questions you’d like to ask the author that aren’t already answered on her FAQ page?

    Here are some posts other book groups have made about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Please add your thoughts in the comments thread below. If you’d like to submit a video testimonial, email us at lisa@rebeccaskloot.com.

    “We read and thoroughly enjoyed learning about the remarkable contribution this woman has made to our collective scientific advancement. At the end of our book discussion this week, we passed the hat. It is disgraceful that Mrs. Lacks’ family is so impoverished while others are making million from her tissue cells. We hope the next generation of Lackses fares better than her children. Kudos to Rebecca Skloot for telling this extraordinary story to the world.” – The Rhode Island Book Club

    “I am a stay-at-home mom in a book club with other stay-at-home moms, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was this month’s book selection. I will admit, I was more than a bit leery about reading a nonfiction/science book for “fun” but within the first chapter all those nerves were put at ease. You are an amazing author with the ability to make very difficult subject matter not at all hard to read about. I laughed, I cried, I was shocked – but most importantly, I was educated. Educated on the concept of cells (which sadly I had not retained from my old biology classes) on the history of the woman who gave our world the HeLa cell – even if the ethics of it are still in question. Thank you for sharing her story with us. I can not wait to sit with the other ladies in my book club and discuss this amazing book!” – Tara A. Bissett

    52 Responses to “Book Groups! Have you discussed The Immortal Life? What’s the issue that got you talking the most? Share your story.”

    1. Hello my name is Alexis Joyner and I am a microbiologist major at Western Illinois University. I read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks my sophomore year at my community college in my English course. The book was very interesting to me. Overall the information and facts of the book were just amazing, but the part that caught my attention was when an entire building was contaminated by the HeLa cells. An ENTIRE scientific building! The scientist thought that there were normal cells growing in those dishes, when really they were growing HeLa cells all over again. I also like the section of the book when they spoke about doctors committing unethical crimes on black patients because the black patients did not have any medical knowledge when they entered the clinics/ hospitals. In a way this is the reason why most black patients do not trust going to doctors for treatment and medicine. After reading this book, I searched for an actual documentary. This book shows how much African Americans have contributed to science and medicine (even without their knowledge). This book also led me to other medical books that connected African Americans to science and research.
      I really enjoyed the book!

      Alexis Joyner

    2. Jeanine Pattison says:

      Hello. My name is Jeanine and I work as a Library Tech at a high school in Melbourne, Australia. Recently I read and was blown away by The Immortal Life by Henrietta Lacks. However, as I was reading it I kept thinking of a wonderful Biology teacher at our school. I urged him to read the book. He did…here is his review. (With apologies, I could never be so eloquent. My hope is that Rebecca Skloot one day reads this.)

      SMC book club review, by Jack Pearce
      I open my review with a vote of thanks to Jeanine from the PCL library. She chose this book for me. What insight she has, for this book skewered me in the heart: a direct hit.
      At university I saw and used “HeLa” cells. They were a famous and reliable cell culture line. I remember being told that they had been donated by an American woman “Helen Lane”. I assumed that she was white, middle class and that she had donated the cells willingly and knowingly to help the world of science. This book set me straight. I feel strangely connected to the HeLa story and I feel somehow guilty.
      Microscopes. Slides. Cells. All these things were tools in trade for me – and now I have to come to terms with the humanity of the person behind the HeLa tissue culture.
      And what a story! The world has changed so much since 1951. Rebecca Skloot has done us a service by telling the story and simultaneously she has rubbed loving salve on the hurts that three generation of Lack’s have endured. This book is compassionately and carefully written. It is written so well that it is very much defensible as a work of literature. That it chronicles a true story so well is a wondrous service to humanity.
      Read the book. It is fit to be made into a fine film.
      When the movie is made (and I am sure it will be made) I will go and serve a second penance for my little part in the story that continues – and will continue as – “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”

      Thank you Rebecca Skloot for your wonderful book, but more importantly, thank you Henrietta Lacks and the Lacks family for all that you have given our world. Jeanine Pattison

    3. As I started reading the book, I was in the library and it was freezing cold but I could not put the book down. When I saw the word HEMOPHILIA, my jaw dropped. My son has severe hemophilia and he was has been hospitalized 3 times in the past 2 months. All I remember was the doctors coming back every 2-4 hours DEMANDING to draw blood from him. My son and I both adamantly declined, saying “why do you need so much blood so often” My son is 22 years old and he has been suffering with bleeds his entire life BUT he is not wheelchair bound or depending on medication (blood products) to treat his bleeds all the time, he simply soaks with alcohol and massage himself. I PRAY. This book helped me to realize how important Henrietta’s cells were and are still to the bleeding community, as well as other diseases. I will forever be grateful for Rebecca for writing such an interesting and well deserved book. I have a new found outlook on the medical field and its worth to people of color, especially minorities.

    4. Elizabeth says:

      This is my book club’s book for November 2013. I just started last night and am already enthralled! A fellow member whose parents are in the medical sciences shared how surprised they were to learn that the HeLa cells they used in medical and pharmacy school actually came from a specific person. It’s wonderful to read about a woman who unknowingly saved thousands of lives. Though it is hardly enough to repay them for their mother’s contribution to science, I hope this book and the knowledge it spreads brings some comfort and satisfaction to the Lacks family.

    5. Anonymous says:

      Can someone tell me, how can patients prevent what happened to Henrettia Lacks today?

      • I suggest you develop a good relationship with your medical team i.e., primary care physician, nurse, and hospital you are getting treatment and care from. Make sure you read any documents that involve you giving or receiving any blood products. Make sure if you are involved in any studies you are aware of the pros and cons. Simply just be apart and a VOICE of what goes in and out of your body. If you are a person who doesn’t understand medical terminology, ask for a social worker and have them present with you when you are discussing any medical advise or treatment plans concerning your health. All the best Quality Health and Wellness to you. GOOD LUCK!!

    6. M says:

      I came across this book after researching adenocarcinoma, and found a link to the book explaining what Henrietta’s cells had and was still doing extraordinary things for science and that they had helped with the treatment of various cancers, I knew I had to read this book.

      I was diagnosed with cervical adenocarcinoma and had a tumour removed from my womb, which was diagnosed on removal, I had no idea it was there and am still desperate to find out about this aggressive disease that hides and jumps. I felt anguish that these treatments were not around in the 50’s whilst I read about Henrietta’s treatment in Hospital, and was astonished that she had adenocarcinoma, diagnosed years later from the sample taken.

      The book was beautifully written, I loved reading about her close knit family and all the people within that, my heart most of all went out to Henrietta for all her pain and suffering, Elsie, her daughter, and the barbaric treatments that happened at the time, and all her siblings, especially Deborah, who wanted more than anything that her mother was never forgotton.

      Thank you Rebecca, for such a fantastic book, without you we would never have heard this story as it is, a lot of family members have sadly passed away, you spent years of your life and money to enable us to enjoy this book and give the family much needed information and to focus the light on their mother and now she will never be forgotton.

    7. Misganaw MEngiste says:

      I’m a sophomore in High School and I was assigned to read this book for a Class that is focused on the Medical field and preparing for the Medical Industry. When I first got the book im not gonna lie I got bored and could barely read 10 pages without falling asleep. I’m not implying that the book itself was boring but i just wasn’t putting any effort into reading it. So after about a month and the deadline to read the book is the next day and i had only read about 50 pages I willed myself to finish the book which I did. and I believe I gained more out of your book then /i have any other book I have ever read and I just want to say thanks.

    8. HelenLane says:

      I think is so deplorable that everyone regardless of race, gender, or whatever has benefited from the HeLa cells yet her family does not receive the cut they deserve. Without those cells, who knows where science would be. This is INJUSTICE!!!!!!! It makes me so angry. People still do not understand what stories like this do to the black population. It makes us angry. Justice for Henrietta’s family!!!!

      • I agree and this is why WE as BLACK PEOPLE have to get involved more with our health, as well as our heritage!!! Keep hope alive,, I am an active advocate for my son who suffers from severe HEMOPHILIA, one of the diseases Henrietta is responsible for treating. ALL the best!!

    9. sue van billiard says:

      we are a newly formed small book club in bethlehem, pa. our 1st book is yours. i have never heard about this before or knew anything about the book. but it has been a very interesting and fascinating read. we have our 1st meeting april 16th and i cant wait to talk about this story to other members. ive told so many people about this book and they also have never heard of it.

      • Renee says:

        Good luck with your new book group, what an honor that Rebecca’s book was selected first. Thank you for the kind words.

        If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the FAQ and the many resources on the reading group page of this site for enriching your discussions, including a reading group guide, links to videos of her answering frequently asked questions about the book, and links to a special features page, with audio and video footage related to the book (including actual recordings of scenes you read about in the book so you can hear the characters’ voices and scenes as they unfolded).

        We’d love it if you let us know how the discussion goes.

    10. Kim says:

      Just got home from book club discussion of this very book. All liked the book especially how she interwove the relevant scientific events surrounding use of HeLa cells with story of Henrietta and her family. We were most upset with how Henrietta’s cells were used
      But yet her family couldn’t see a doctor or receive needed medical treatment bc of their lack of insurance, money etc. we also discussed mans inhumanity to man. All liked book.

    11. Leslie Raphael says:

      Just finished reading for my book club. Found the layers of ‘victimization’ endured by Henrietta & her family a painful, revealing and educational journey.
      Re the bio medical moral & ethical issues raised: Here is my question– Since pharmaceutical companies purchase human cells for vast profits & (unlike the incredible HeLa cells)most are from a multitude of human donors(some deceased, many from unsigned, unaware donors) wouldn’t it be possible for legislation requiring a certain percentage of all profits to be put into a Citizens Health Insurance Fund?

    12. anoymous says:

      I grew up in clover va so of course i had to read it. my family name was also lacks. though i would be one of the white ones. i truly felt for her family. though really i never heard of it until the book came out. i hope and wish things will be ok for the rest of her family. thanks henrietta for everything. you will not be forgotten now

    13. Marcia Cross-Briscoe says:

      The Fannie Robinson Black Author’s Discussion Group in Washington, DC discussed this book Dec. 10, 2011. I led the discussion and began with a question asking participants if they agreed or disagreed that the lack of education of Henrietta Lacks and her family played a GREATER part in the family’s not being able to come to terms with her death and the subsequent widspread use of her cells than the RACE factor. No one really agreed with me, they felt that the fact that Henrietta was a Black female, as well as poor, meant that she and her family were taken advantage of more so than if she were a White female. We also spent a lot of time dealing with the issue of compensation of the family – we came to no conclusion though as to how this would be accomplished in a truly fair manner.

      This is one of the greatest books I’ve ever read and I am a librarian of 25 + years and a book club organizer and leader since 1984.

      An interesting comment about the state of Maryland was made at our meeting as well. As of the 2011 Census, Maryland has the highest per capita income of any state. Very likely this is due to the I-270 Technology Corridor which contains a lot of biomedical research companies who are making money, in part, because of HeLa cells.

      Thank you, Rebecca Skloot, for persevering with the research and writing of this book!

    14. Tikki says:

      My book club and I read the book and really enjoyed it. Many of us were so moved by the plight of the Lacks family, that we have been discussing ways that we can contribute.

    15. Garrett says:

      I really enjoyed your book. I am currently a student at Central College in Pella, Iowa. We were required to read it for a freshman course and normally I barely read any books. I started reading it during my family vacation and every free time I had I was on the front porch reading it. I loved how you gave in depth detail about every small point in the book such as Henrietta’s cousins and basically her whole family tree. I really enjoyed learning about the history of the HeLa cells through the eyes of everybody including the rest of the world along with Henrietta’s family and friends.

    16. JSS says:

      All freshmen at Central College were assigned to read this book over the summer before starting classes in August. I’m so glad I decided to go to Central, because I probably wouldn’t have picked this book up if I didn’t. I found this book very interesting and I couldn’t put it down.
      Henrietta’s story is sad, yet so powerful. I can’t believe how long it took to get her entire life story. I think the process of getting that story is one of the most interesting parts of the book. It took so long for the family to trust you, and I think that’s the most powerful part of the story. Trust is the key to any friendship.

    17. Alan Pfadenhauer says:

      I am a college student who read this book through our common reading program. I was not to excited to read the book at first, but after starting it was hard for me to put it down. The book had a 2 topics I learned that I wanted to share. I knew that blacks were discriminated against, but I did not realize how bad it truly was. Taking cells with out telling the family and then making money on the cells. I am glad that there are forms that you now have to fill out before something like that happens again. Also something I learned most from the book would be about Rebecca herself. The determination she showed to not give up on her book. She could have just said she had enough information or that it was good enough when people she went to talk to lost faith in her, but she worked as hard as she could to work with the family. I admire her commitment for excellence in her writing.

    18. Timothy P. Gibson says:

      I had never heard of this book until I was given this book as our summer read for one of my college classes. At first I thought the book would be rather boring because when I picked up the copy of my book it seemed rather thick. Once I started reading I couldn’t stop, I had never heard of HeLa before and the story and science intrigued me to finish the book within a couple of weeks.

      This book had a lot of moving stories in it that surprised me constantly, on how Henrietta and her family had no idea what was happening. The writing of this book was phenomenal I’m so glad I read it and I have recommended this book to many of my family members. All of the talk of the doctors going behind patients back got me wondering how things are handled in the real world today. My mother was in the hospital for a month and a half this summer and I remember all of us signing for her surgeries and procedures, and I recall them putting the papers in front of us, and actually sitting and reading them instead of just signing them like they wanted us too. We didn’t find any errors but there were things that we could change in the “contract” and things we could have them do differently than a normal procedure. This book brought great knowledge to my family and me.

      I enjoyed how the book was written, and I applaud Rebecca for all of her hard work, tenacity, drive, and power to get all of her information even when it seemed like everywhere she went was a dead end. It was great to read such a phenomenal book and I’m glad I now know HeLa is more than a cell.

    19. Emily says:

      I read ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ over the summer in preparation for one of my freshman seminar courses. I was truly amazed at the persistence and perseverance of Rebecca Skloot throughout her writing process. Many times she was turned away or ignored while trying to gather information for her book, but Skloot was determined to spread the message of Henrietta Lacks.

      I think this is a very eye-opening story about the issue of patient rights and the unethical decisions that are sometimes made in secrecy. It is unbelievable that this event occurred more than 50 years ago, yet people are just now becoming aware of it. I admire Skloot’s willingness to research and share Henrietta’s story so that others can become familiar wither her as a person, rather than scientific discovery.

    20. Meghan Herren says:

      I am a freshman at Central College in Pella, IA. This year we used Rebecca’s book for our common reading study. The story of the Lacks’ family struggle gave an entirely different outlook on the unethical treatment of African American patients. The passion Rebecca had to discover HeLa was truly inspiring. I admire her determination and I appreciate the shocking truth that this novel brings attention to.

      The powerful connection between Deborah and her mother is incredibly moving. She brought awareness to how her mother was being treated just by caring and investigating. Henrietta seemed like an amazing woman and it is great that Deborah wants to let everyone know about the person who gave so much but asked for so little.

    21. Jordan says:

      After reading “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” I’m left with a number of interesting and thought-provoking topics. From the story of Henrietta, I’m have a handful of questions concerning bioethics, cancer treatment, hospitalization of different races, and more. Along with this, I feel very inspired by Rebecca’s story. She went through a great amount of rejection, but never gave up on writing this book.

      The book was the required reading for my college’s freshman writing class. In class, we’ve discussed a wide range of issues and ideas presented within te book, and these discussions have been very eye-opening. The class has also had the pleasure of speaking with the author’s father via Skype, and that conversation was very enlightening, as he gave us another perspective of Rebecca’s writing process, and just how driven she was to finish the book.

      The things that resonate with me most about the book is the determination presented by Henrietta, Rebecca, and (in a way) the HeLa cells. None of them ever gave up on what they were aiming for. While Henrietta unfortunately fell victim to her illness, Rebecca’s perseverance led to spreading Henrietta’s story. The HeLa cells, which also persevered, led to an enormous list of obvious advantages and breakthroughs. The book is very inspring to me, and it certainly changed my opinion on the issues presented.

    22. Kaylee Clark says:

      As a freshman at Central College, our common reading book for Intersections was “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” This book was very interesting and educational. It has opened up my eyes to the medical world more than ever before. I loved being able to read Rebecca Skloot’s journey through her research. She had to have a lot of drive to keep working through all the rough times she had through the process of writing the book. I had never heard of HeLa cells before reading the book but now am very interested in their history. This book was a great read and I really enjoyed it.

    23. Ashton Mayer says:

      As a freshman at Central College in Pella, Iowa out common reading book for our required class was the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.In reading the book I was taken aback by the fact that Henrietta was poked, prodded, and tested all while she was totally oblivious to the side effects and problems that may arise. Also, she may not have received the correct treatment.
      I share a certain connection with Henrietta’s experiences because my mother experienced a similar situation. She was almost positive of her sickness, but her doctor gave her pain medication as a quick fix. I found my mother in her bed shaking, but not complaining of an ounce of pain. Her friends rushed her to the hospital only for us to find out she had gone septic from the urinary tract infection she had suspected. I will never forget how scared I was at the fact that I might loose my mother. Then, in reading the book I felt the feelings of my mother’s experience ten-fold.
      I still have my mother but Henrietta was gone. If only she could have seen what her cells have done for the medicine. After reading I became so thankful for Henrietta, her family, and Rebecca for sharing this story. It has made me both appreciate and ponder and will stick with me as a lesson in responsibility and perseverance. Thank you!

    24. Hannah says:

      One of the parts that really stuck out to me in this book, was the fact that Henrietta’s family remained in poverty while her cells were making all sorts of money. Initially the family had no idea of the amounts of money that Henrietta’s cells were making. They found out and were astounded.

      Henrietta’s family began to fight for some of the money that her cell’s were earning and it was amazing to me how inconsiderate some of the people were when they were fighting for this. It was very surprising to me that they were unable to get anything for her cells. They went through a lot of tough times and not very many people offered them help.

      It also kind of surprised me how much of a grudge the brothers held on people because of their past experiences. It was understandable that they were mad for quite a while because they went through a lot. Although they eventually gave in a little bit, it was still surprising how angry they continually were with them.

    25. Liz Bauman says:

      This book was very inspiring to me in more ways than one. It also helped me to step out of my sheltered little box that I have been in and be able to see what is going on around me. I didn’t fully realize the extent to which doctors could use parts of the bodies of their patients and push the limits of what they can do with those samples. In the book, the doctors took Henrietta’s cells and used them to change the world, doing so without her knowledge or her family’s. People made money off of HeLa cells and found medicines and cures for diseases without even notifying the Lacks family or giving Henrietta any credit. I cannot fathom the feelings the Lacks family would have felt when they discovered all of the good their mother’s cells had done, but also the lack of credit they received for them. Although I would be all for doctors and scientists being able to discover cures and concoct medicines from using my cells and such, I think I would want to at least know about it. This book has taught me the importance of actually reading the forms at the doctor’s office and paying more attention to what I am signing and agreeing to before I just sign my body away on a piece of paper. It portrayed the significance of understanding what each patient of medical institutions mean to medical research. It brings up the question, just how many actually people know what their body is being used for after they visit the doctor? This book was very moving, but also very eye-opening. It was one of the most interesting books I’ve read in a long time.

    26. Anonymous says:

      What I found most amazing about this book is Rebecca’s complete dedication to the book. She refused to stop at anything, even when the times got difficult. She went through so much to get an award winning book written.
      Another amazing part was the relationship she gained with Deborah. Rebecca got to know Deborah on a personal level, which I believe is the only way for her to write this book successfully. Even though Rebecca did not have the chance to talk to Henrietta, she seemed to have a connection with her and really care about her.

    27. Ethan Van Kooten says:

      My name is Ethan and I am a freshman at Central College in Pella, IA. We had to read the book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”, I thought it was a phenomenal book that brought up many questions throughout the semester. One of the bigger questions that I thought of was when I sign health forms in the doctors office, am i signing away my cells and other organs if something would happen to me? I never have read the fine print at the bottom of the page like many other Americans. Not saying that the American health system is bad by any means, but it makes one wonder.
      I also appreciated that through trial and error Rebecca never gave up. It goes to show that with hard work and perseverance, anything is possible. It is an incredible story that everyone should read, and I appreciate the fact that Rebecca never gave up. Besides that she is a good role model for all those who could possibly want to give up. Rebecca could have given up through all the years of struggle and turmoil, yet she didn’t. The story about Henrietta is one that should be shared with all, and I for one am glad that her story is out for all to know.

    28. Nicole Johnson says:

      I really loved how the book focused on the fact that the HeLa cells came from a living breathing person and that she lived a life and had a family. Most of the time people don’t think about the human side of science, that everything we do and have is because of real people. I love that this book brought light to that and made myself and others realize that it is all from people just like us.

    29. Jackie says:

      This book wonderfully addressed the relationships between science and family. I really liked how Rebecca wrote about both the Lacks’ point of view and the scientists’ point of view. Although taking both stories separately, she meshed them into one, both relevant to the other. I like how she switched from one side to the other, not making either side look bad or good, but just telling it the way it was from both points of view.
      She wrote about the Lacks from Henrietta’s childhood through death. Writing about her life shows that HeLa cells actually came from what once was a living, breathing human being. Looking at the science part of the book, one could maybe see the cells as being just about individual cells and that’s it, never having belonged to someone. The most important aspect I took out of this book was that neither the Lacks nor the scientists were all bad or all good, but just humans trying to do their part in the world. Even though the scientists and doctors were not very nice to Henrietta and her family (both body and cells), they were working at trying to figure out new things in the medical field.

    30. Samantha Morgan says:

      Hello my name Samantha Morgan. I am a student at Central College. I had to read this book for a freshman class. To my surprise, I enjoyed reading the book and learned several things about human experimentation and civil rights struggles in the African American community that I never knew before reading this book. I had no idea that post World War II medical practices in the past targeted African Americans as test subjects. Though I did know there were in places in the country that had segregated hospitals and waiting rooms around that time. What really got my attention was the way poor Elise was treated at the institution. I thought it was sad that no one told her that her mother had passed away, and then to die so young at age 15. Still it was great that Deborah managed to find information and a photo graph of her sister after all those years of searching.
      I would recommend this book to anyone who likes stories about life changing journeys , history, or scientific journals. If that person is interested in all three of those topics, like I am, then they would love this book! It is a great read and I believe it really makes us think about where much of our medical technology and practices have come from. To Rebecca Skloot , the Lacks family, and all those people mentioned in the book thank you making this story to be told finally.

    31. Curtis says:

      In one of my college classes we were assigned to read this book over the summer so that we would be able to have class discussions about the book. AT first I thought I would not enjoy this book at all because of all the science. As I got through the 1st chapter I knew it would be a struggle to put it down! The history of this amazing story sucked me in so that I wanted to read the rest. The story really resonated with me because of all the struggles that the Lack’s family had to go through. What do doctors really do with our cells??? Do they belong to us or science???? These are all questions I will be asking myself from now on.

    32. I teach our Freshman Seminar course (Intersections) at Central College, in Pella, IA and “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” was our common reading this semester. I could not be more impressed with the unending perseverance Rebecca Skloot had over the course of ten years to share this story that indeed needed to be told. From cover to cover, it is clearly evident that the issues of medical ethics, scientific research, patient consent, and family relations drive the author’s passion to have Henrietta’s enduring life be told, and that of her family.

      Reading this book and discussing it in class at Central College, has heightened our awareness of all the issues mentioned above, leading to such questions as: In the name of medical research and advancement, should individuals have total ownership over their cells, tissues, organs? How vigilant are we, or how more vigilant should we be, regarding medical consent for ourselves? How might religion enter into the discussion?

      Thanks to Rebecca Skloot and the Lacks family, Henrietta’s story is no longer one that is untold. With every page of this important book, the events are told, lessons are learned, and the pursuit of what needs to be made more transparent, in the face of medical advancement, for patients and their families, continues.

    33. Angela says:

      I am a science teacher in Hartford Ct and will using this wonderful story for an interdisciplinary unit on Henrietta!

    34. Julie says:

      What a fabulous book! The best I’ve read in a very long time.
      I read it for book club and we all loved this book.
      The ramifications are everywhere and I for one am thankful for all science has been able to learn from Henrietta. Just last week I heard on the news about the Myriad genetics law suit and the book put it all into perspective.
      It clarifies on so many levels.
      Thank you for setting up the foundation for those who need it.
      Hope to read another book written by you some day!

    35. Marla says:

      I’ve just started reading this, and I have to take breaks, because I get so excited, I feel like I might start hyperventilating…I already know that my life will never be the same…this book is going to change me…

    36. I am a scientist and songwriter, performing as Dr Chordate. After reading this book, I wrote a song about Henrietta Lacks. The link to that song is http://members.tranquility.net/~scimusic/The%20Ballad%20of%20Henrietta%20Cell%27s_Jeff%20Moran.mp3


    37. Liliana says:

      wow, I must say, I just finished reading this book, one of the best things i’ve read in a while. You’re so lucky Ms.Rebecca Skloot that you got to research about Henrietta and know her family. Before I’ve read this book I was hoping that one day i would meet Deborah, but when i kept reading and i learned about her death I was disappointed. However, i’m more than happy that i got to read her amazing story and her mother.

    38. Christy says:

      This book was so inspirational and educational. I am college educated and learned things in the book that I never knew about. The author’s (Rebecca) knowledge of bioethics was very on point and I learned so much from reading this book. My heart goes out to this family, who did not have the advantage, due to the era in which they grew up in, to understand how much they were taken advantage of. I laughed and cried reading this book and managed to read the book over the course of a weekend because I was unable to put the book down. This book was very well written and I look forward to seeing the movie/documentary that Oprah is working on!!

    39. Cindy says:

      i joined a local book club as next weeks meeting is this book-my girlfriend,whose a member,loaded it to me! what a read! By far the best book I’ve read in awhile next to “The Book of Negros” by L Hill.Winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Fiction and one of the greatest Canadian novels of the decade..
      To be so lucky to find 2 great reads for 2011! I am not in the medical field but this book was written for the layman as well as the medical professional!
      If you read just 2 books in the next years both of these MUST be on your list!!

    40. Karen says:

      My group, Read ‘Em and Eat, absolutely *loved* the book, and we were all heartbroken to hear how hard Henrietta’s family members’ lives were.

    41. charlie says:

      We live in Baltimore and I’ve worked for Johns Hopkins in the medical field, in the same neighborhoods mentioned in the book. My son read this book for his high school biology class and we read it in our mom’s book club. Wow!! An excellent book! Loved the way it was written, kudos to the amazing author!! I am blown away by Rebecca’s maturity, sensitivity and honesty in her writing. The most amazing book I’ve ever read, discussing the fine line between science and personal privacy, and public health issues. Absolutely amazing story, written beautifully. An inspiration. Thank you so much, Rebecca, for bringing us this story.

    42. Norma says:

      Last night our book club met. It is a non-fiction club in which only one person reads a book and reports on it. Any book that tweaks your interest then you can put on your list to read. Suits me fine. Last night it was my turn to report and I did it on your book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”. Everyone was so interested. It generated some great discussion and they found the way you weaved the strands of the story patterned after “Fried Green Tomatoes….” to be fascinating. Several of the women are in the health profession and I was surprised no one had heard of HeLa cells, or at least didn’t remember them from school. We were all so impressed with the body of research you so thoroughly conducted and cited. They all want to read the book themselves and anxiously await the film being planned. What an eye-opener. For this to be your first book, you did a masterful job so I’m convinced you are a master of your craft. A couple of my doctors found the story interesting so I intend to buy the book for them. Thanks for all your dedication and passion you obviously put into this body of work. I hope all the grandchildren benefit from Henrietta’s story.

    43. Erin says:

      I am reading this book in my college reading class. I think this is a wonderful book. This Novel truly amazed me at the things that went on. Everyone needs to read this book!

    44. Kelli says:

      I too heard about the book on NPR, the segment alone had me fascinated to learn more. I immediately found a few articles on line about Ms Skloot and Henrietta. The next day on a quest for several birthday gifts walked into a Borders and there the book was, on display as I immediately walked in! Now I had to read the book. Never having had any interest in science or any subjects related to the medical field, had never heard of HeLa cells. There mere concept blows my mind! I cannot wait to get further into this book and share with others!

      • Kenya Ochoa says:

        It is indeed very interesting to think of the wonders that Henriwttas cells have facilitated. It appears that she has touched everyone in the world whether they know it or not because her cells allowed scientists to research groundbreaking developments, such as the polio vaccine which has saved millions of people from the disease.

    45. Kim says:

      I chose this book for my bookclub since I work with women in obstetrics and gynecology. When I read her book last year when it first came out, I could not put it down. I was fascinated and experienced many emotions.

      Like Ms. Skloot, I too had heard of HeLa cells in science classes, but did not know the true story behind them. As a science and history geek, this book filled my thirst for the true meaning of the impact of HeLa cell’s immortal legacy.

      As a health care professional, I find the story told of Ms. Lacks life serves to validate my work and research as a doctoral student. I encourage all health care providers, professors, and students to read this book.

      We are discussing the book at our book club tomorrow night, and I will let you know some of the comments and discussions that are shared.


      • Kimberly says:

        I was driving and heard the story on NPR and had to pull over when Deborah spoke about her mother. I became emotional and had to park the car and finish listening to the segment. Its a blessing that Rebecca Skloot was determined to tell the story.

    46. Annie says:

      We’re reading it this month! I just finished it and I CAN’T wait to discuss it with my group. I was blown away….

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    The Henrietta Lacks Foundation strives to provide financial assistance to needy individuals who have made important contributions to scientific research without their knowledge or consent.