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Crown Publishing Group (NY)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - "The story of modern medicine and bioethics--and, indeed, race relations--is refracted beautifully, and movingly."--Entertainment Weekly

NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE FROM HBO(R) STARRING OPRAH WINFREY AND ROSE BYRNE - ONE OF THE "MOST INFLUENTIAL" (CNN), "DEFINING" (LITHUB), AND "BEST" (THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER) BOOKS OF THE DECADE - ONE OF ESSENCE'S 50 MOST IMPACTFUL BLACK BOOKS OF THE PAST 50 YEARS - WINNER OF THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE HEARTLAND PRIZE FOR NONFICTION

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review - Entertainment Weekly - O: The Oprah Magazine - NPR - Financial Times - New York - Independent (U.K.) - Times (U.K.) - Publishers Weekly - Library Journal - Kirkus Reviews - Booklist - Globe and Mail

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, which are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. 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 remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.

Henrietta's family did not learn of her "immortality" until more than twenty 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.

Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family--especially Henrietta's daughter Deborah. Deborah was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Had they killed her to harvest her cells? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn't her children afford health insurance?

Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences.

Author: Rebecca Skloot
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (NY)
Published: 02/02/2010
Pages: 369
Binding Type: Hardcover
Weight: 1.37lbs
Size: 9.46h x 6.44w x 1.45d
ISBN: 9781400052172

Accelerated Reader:
Reading Level: 8
Point Value: 18
Interest Level: Upper Grade
Quiz #/Name: 151442 / Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Award: Ambassador Book Awards - Winner
Award: ALA Notable Books - Winner
Award: Georgia Peach Book Award for Teen Readers - Nominee
Award: Black-Eyed Susan Award - Nominee
Award: Discover Great New Writers - Second Place
Award: Grand Canyon Reader Award - Recommended
Award: L.A. Times Book Prize - Finalist

Review Citation(s):
Publishers Weekly 10/05/2009 pg. 40
Library Journal Prepub Alert 11/01/2009 pg. 44
Booklist 12/01/2009 pg. 18
Library Journal 12/15/2009 pg. 130
Kirkus Reviews 01/01/2010 pg. 37
Vanity Fair 03/01/2010 pg. 158
New York Times Book Review 02/14/2010 pg. 22
New Yorker (The) 02/15/2010 pg. 141
Essence 03/01/2010 pg. 68
New York Times Book Review 02/07/2010 pg. 20
People Weekly 02/22/2010 pg. 53
Time 02/22/2010 pg. 15
Scientific American 03/01/2010 pg. 84
Entertainment Weekly 02/26/2010 pg. 75
Entertainment Weekly 06/18/2010 pg. 19
London Review of Books 06/10/2010 pg. 16
LJ Top 10 Book 11/01/2010 pg. 1
Discover 12/01/2010 pg. 35
NY Times Notable Bks of Year 12/05/2010 pg. 30
People Weekly 12/27/2010 pg. 61
Booklist Editors Choice/Adult 01/01/2011 pg. 7
Publishers Weekly Best Books 11/08/2010 pg. 22
Shelf Awareness 01/01/0001

About the Author

Rebecca Skloot is an award-winning science writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine; O, The Oprah Magazine; Discover; and many others. She is coeditor of The Best American Science Writing 2011 and has worked as a correspondent for NPR's Radiolab and PBS's Nova ScienceNOW. She was named one of five surprising leaders of 2010 by the Washington Post. Skloot's debut book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, took more than a decade to research and write, and instantly became a New York Times bestseller. It was chosen as a best book of 2010 by more than sixty media outlets, including Entertainment Weekly, People, and the New York Times. It is being translated into more than twenty-five languages, adapted into a young reader edition, and being made into an HBO film produced by Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball. Skloot is the founder and president of The Henrietta Lacks Foundation. She has a B.S. in biological sciences and an MFA in creative nonfiction. She has taught creative writing and science journalism at the University of Memphis, the University of Pittsburgh, and New York University. She lives in Chicago.

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