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The Bibliophiliac’s Corner – “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”

Article and photo by Amanda Merriman

The Connection writer Amanda Merriman admits she is hopelessly addicted to books.  It has been this way nearly all her life.  Every month she will share what she has been reading with the hope that others will share in her obsession.

This month’s book selection takes a turn to the realm of biographies.  “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” is author Rebecca Skloot’s labor of love (and first book), a project 10 years in the making.  The Immortal Life is an exceptional story about many things.  It is about how Henrietta Lacks’ cells live on today, more than 60 years after her death.  It is about how these cells have made an immeasurable difference in the world of science.  This story also enlightens readers about Henrietta Lacks’ life and her family.  But it is also about so much more than this.  

The Immortal Life begins with a quote from Elie Wiesel, “ We must not see any person as an abstraction.  Instead, we must see in every person a universe…”  This quote is the heart of the book.  The Immortal Life makes readers think about medical ethics, race, social class, trust, and health care.  These issues are as relevant today as they were in Lacks’ lifetime.  Skloot divides the book into three sections, each of which moves back and forth through time and also changes focus between Lacks’ story, members of her family, and the author herself.  The dynamic style in which the story was written gives it an interesting feel.  Additionally, Skloot writes the scientific pieces in a way that makes it comprehensible to readers of all backgrounds.  Skloot has written this biography with much care, affection, and attention to detail.  Grab a copy of The Immortal Life and prepare to go on an unforgettable journey.   

Fellow bibliophiles and book club members, please feel free to join in the dialogue.  Blog your thoughts and feedback at and enter the keyword “bibliophiliac” in the search bar.  Have you read a great book recently?   Don’t keep that juicy tidbit all to yourself.  Email your find to



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