Standalone Sunday

6493208The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Published by: Crown Publishing Group

Publication Date: February 2nd 2010

Genre: Non-Fiction/History/Science

Pages: 370 pages

 Standalone Sunday is a feature created by  Megan@BookSlayerReads where you select a book (not part of a series) that you loved & would recommend to others.


Henrietta Lacks, as HeLa, is known to present-day scientists for her cells from cervical cancer. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells were taken without her knowledge and still live decades after her death. Cells descended from her may weigh more than 50M metric tons.

HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s 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 was buried in an unmarked grave.

The journey starts in the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s, her small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia — wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo. Today are stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells, East Baltimore children and grandchildren live in obscurity, see no profits, and feel violated. The dark history of experimentation on African Americans helped lead to the birth of bioethics, and legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.


I highlighted the last bit of the Goodreads synopsis because I read it 3 times to myself & thought…that’s a scary thought, not having control of our own cells. This book was impactful, maddening, eye opening, and educational. So many of the vaccines and medicines we have today are because of Henrietta’s stolen cells. Just recently I stumbled across a EW article announcing the HBO movie that is being produced by Oprah. Oprah will also be starring in the movie playing the part of Henrietta’s daughter. I am really looking forward to seeing this movie get the attention it deserves. Henrietta may no longer be with us but her story & sacrifice has helped us all & continues to do good in the world.

EW article

Author: LairOfBooks

"I didn't choose the Book Life, the Book Life chose me"

17 thoughts on “Standalone Sunday”

  1. I am pretty stoked to see that you chose this for two reasons: 1) You just reminded me that this in my massive TBR pile 2) If you loved it, I am pretty confident I will ❤ I had no idea they were making a film! I need to bump this up on the list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Danielle! ❤ this is just one of those books that will stay with me for the rest of my life due to the injustice of it all. I can't wait to get your thoughts on it when you do get around to it 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It truly is Annie, one of those stories that will stay with you for life. The HBO movie doesn’t have an exact release date other than this year but it’s already in production. I am very happy to see this story brought to light 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds like a really interesting book Lilly. I’m definitely going to have to check this out because it sounds like it will be a very meaningful story. The last line you bolded is definitely chilling; it must have been horrific to have no control over your body, your cells, and what is done to them.
    Great pick for this week. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This was one of the most important books I read last year and the only one I couldn’t review. I found it so heartbreaking that I can’t find words to really describe it. But I do believe that everyone should read it. Thanks for spreading the word about this book.
    x The Captain

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same here, although I didn’t have my blog yet…I can’t possibly see myself finding the words to review it. I agree, everyone should read this book because it’s such an important part of our every day lives & many don’t even know it. Of course, I’m so happy that there’s a movie in production. As heartbreaking as I know it will be to watch, it will bring awareness to many. Thank you for stopping by 💜


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