Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Ok, so I will admit to you all that yes, at first, I honestly thought this was a book about vampires, since I had it on my Kindle and wasn't able to explore the cover a little more.  After the initial shock of reality wore off (and I actually started getting into the book), I realized that this was about a woman who made such a difference in the world, and she didn't even know it.  Henrietta was a poor black woman who developed an extremely fast spreading case of cervical cancer.  When the doctors started treatment, they cut off a sliver of the tumor to use for testing (without Henrietta's consent).  As it turns out, Henrietta's cells survived testing and still survive today.  The HeLa cells are the reason for many medical advances from the 50s on to today.  As the story goes on, you see that the family received absolutely nothing from the HeLa cells and were still living in poverty with a ton of medical issues and no way to pay the bills.  The author talks to the family long after Henrietta has died and explores exactly what happened during all the time that has passed.  Nothing was ever offered to them and for a while, the wrong person was credited for the cells.  The reason for the story was to give Henrietta the credit she deserved.

I have to say, I'm a little disappointed in myself for not hearing about this story earlier in life, since these cells were the beginning of so many wonderful inventions/cures/procedures, but better late than never, I suppose. The writing was pretty standard.  The author repeated herself a few times, but there was a wealth of information about cell production and processes that made it very interesting.  It is a little bit scientific, so if that's not your "thing" I am not sure if you'd enjoy the entire book.  That being said, the story was an incredible one, offering a glimpse into this family's life as well as Henriettas.  I definitely enjoyed it more than I thought I would. 
Rating: 4 1/2


  1. I have to admit I giggled that you thought it was a vampire book. :) Makes sense though!

  2. yes, you aren't the first one...I laughed at myself, I think, more than anything at how I could make such a mistake!