Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
This guide is from 2015, and is no longer being maintained. Some of its information is outdated and some of its links are broken.
Review in the Hastings Center Report
"In recounting this layered history, Skloot does not shy away from moral complexities."
Review in Issues in Science and Technology
"If Skloot's book does not cause you to rethink your position on these issues, then you have missed its most important point. But it is still a page-turner of the first order."
Review in the Journal of Clinical Investigation
"The result is one comprehensive and hauntingly beautiful story. No matter how much you may know about basic biology, you will be amazed by this book."
Review in the Journal of Family Theory & Review
"In a book that is hard to put down, Skloot manages to weave many subthemes, dealing with a host of ethical and social issues, into two parallel themes: a history of the Lacks family and the science around cell research."
Review in the Journal of Legal Medicine
"In essence, the story is a fiercely human tale about the importance of seeing one another in the clarifying light of each other’s unique and radiant mortal being."
Review in Jurimetrics: The Journal of Law, Science, & Technology
"Skloot not only tells the remarkable story of the HeLa cells' origins and their wide-ranging significance, but also resurrects Henrietta herself. This is no small miracle, and we are lucky Skloot was as dogged and determined as she was over the decade it took her to research and write her book."
Review in Nature Medicine
"One hopes that scientists will learn to appreciate that their experiments do not justify the end. To my mind, this message will be the impact of this remarkable book about HeLa cells and the story behind them."
Review in Nature
"The emotional impact of Skloot’s tale is intensified by its skilfully orchestrated counterpoint between two worlds: the heady pioneer days of cell research, and the hard existence of the Lacks family."
Note: One month after Nature
published this book review, it published a letter to the editor
written by the renowned anatomist Dr. Leonard Hayflick. In his letter, Dr. Hayflick criticizes the review for perpetuating myths about the HeLa cell line.
Review in New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society
"It turns out not to have been as carefully fact-checked as readers might suppose."
Review in the New York Times
"It has brains and pacing and nerve and heart, and it is uncommonly endearing."
Review in the New York Times Book Review
"Science writing is often just about 'the facts.' Skloot’s book, her first, is far deeper, braver and more wonderful."
Review in The Progressive
"...An incredible book: deep, thoughtful, profound in its contemplation not just of matters of racial and economic justice, but of cutting-edge ethical questions that veer into the spiritual and existential."
Review in Psychiatry: Interpersonal & Biological Processes
"The author’s approach lets us see the social issues involved in the taking of Henrietta’s cells in terms of their human effects, while at the same time showing us that the questions raised are indeed complex and may not always have the simple answers we would like to see."
Review on Salon.com
"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a heroic work of cultural and medical journalism."
Review in Science
"This beautifully crafted and painstakingly researched book raises nearly as many questions as it answers: questions about ethics, racism, and, most importantly, humanity."
Review in Social Studies of Science
"Skloot's breathless cheerleading for the science and pulp-writer's taste for the prurient leave her ultimately dismissing the ongoing relevance of the racism that she indicted at the start of the story."
Review in the Tennessee Tribune (an African American newspaper)
"If you're looking for a story that will shock you, amaze you, and anger you more than a little bit, pick this one up."
Review in the Washington Informer (an African American newspaper)
"High praise indeed is in order for the author for fashioning such a gripping narrative of Lacks' humble life, tragic death and everlasting gift to humanity."
Review in the Washington Post
"It's a deftly crafted investigation of a social wrong committed by the medical establishment, as well as the scientific and medical miracles to which it led."
Skloot's writing process
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is not told in chronological order. Instead, it uses three interwoven narratives. In this video, Rebecca Skloot talks about why and how she structured the book in this way.
More videos about Skloot's writing process are available on her YouTube channel:
In addition to these videos, you may also be interested in the following interviews, in which Skloot describes some of the decisions that she made while writing The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks:
Book tour videos
Videos of Rebecca Skloot promoting her book.
The Colbert Report
HealthTalk with Dr. Manny Alvarez
The Tavis Smiley Show
The Henrietta Lacks Foundation is a non-profit organization that provides funds to individuals who have been subjects of scientific studies either against their will or without their knowledge, or to the surviving descendents of such individuals.
The foundation was created by Rebecca Skloot. Skloot donates a portion of the profits of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks to the foundation.
For more information about the Henrietta Lacks Foundation, see this New York Times article.
In this interview, aired on the NPR radio show Talk of the Nation, Rebecca Skloot talks about how The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is being used as a common book at many colleges and universities.
The Lacks family
Official website of the Lacks family
The surviving members of the Lacks family responded to the publication of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by launching this website. The website is maintained by Henrietta's son David "Sonny" Lacks, Jr.