BookPage named The Immortal Life a Top Pick for Book Clubs, calling it “a deeply intimate look at one family’s efforts to claim its legacy.” According to Bookmovement.com, The Immortal Life is consistently in the top 10 book club picks of 2011. The Immortal Life was selected for the first non-fiction edition of The Atlantic’s 1book140 reading club. Hundreds of book groups worldwide have read The Immortal Life with wonderful results — below you will find information and resources designed to enhance your group’s discussion of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
- Discussion Questions (PDF)
- Timeline (PDF)
- Cast of Characters (PDF)
- Download the complete reader’s guide (PDF)
- Listen to the Radiolab segment on The Immortal Life featuring Rebecca Skloot and Deborah Lacks discussing Henrietta and her cells, as well as exclusive audio clips of Rebecca’s interview tapes to hear recordings of actual scenes featured in the book.
- Real Simple selected The Immortal Life for their “No Obligation Book Club.” Their great online discussion concluded with Rebecca Skloot’s answers to commonly asked questions about The Immortal Life.
- Read about Rebecca’s writing process, her expectations for the book, and how she developed the book’s structure (complete with photos of the index-card story board she used to organize the book), in this interview with Nieman Storyboard, from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard and this interview for The OpenNotebook by David Dobbs (which includes photos of her research notes). She talks more about the book’s braided structure in this interview with the Read and Roll Show, where she explains how Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe and the movie Hurricane, about Hurricane Carter the boxer, helped her organize her own material.
- Perfect for reading groups! Check out this reader-generated online Jeopardy! game – you can play with up to 12 teams.
- Looking for creative menu ideas for your reading group? Check out this ButteryBooks.com blog post to inspire you to have an unforgettable book club party.
- Visit the special features page of this site for photos not included in the book, videos of HeLa cells dividing, the BBC documentary discussed in the book, and more.
- Visit the FAQ page of this site for answers to many questions often raised by book groups.
- Read these profiles of Rebecca Skloot and watch or listen to these interviews with her to learn more about her book, her background, her writing process, and more.
- And don’t forget to check out the Events & Appearances page to see if Rebecca Skloot is coming to a city near you.
Join the conversation
Has your reading group discussed The Immortal Life? We want to hear from you! Read what other groups have been saying about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and join the conversation.
“We are the Bookies of Howard County, Maryland. Your book touched us deeply. You made us feel for Henrietta and all of her family. We still can’t figure out why Johns Hopkins hasn’t given all of Henrietta’s heirs free medical care for life. Someone should! What a story! We were also moved by your dedication and by the inspiration you had at such a young age. Clearly, this story moved you as well. Henrietta spoke to you. Thank you for telling this amazing story. We hope our collective donations will help the scholarship fund to grow.” —The Bookies of Howard County
“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’s family is so impoverished while others are making millions 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
Talk to other enthusiastic readers about the book on these social networks:
Named by more than 60 critics as one of the best books of 2010Buy the Book
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.