The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks deserves every ounce of praise that has been heaped on it. Rebecca Skloot has one heck of a story to tell, a story that actually belongs to another woman: Henrietta Lacks.
The book is partially a retelling of Henrietta's life and her death, but also a thorough chronicle of the history of HeLa cells (so named by taking the first and last two letters of the donor's name), which were developed after Henrietta's death. These cells (pictured above) revolutionized science in so many ways it hardly seems believable that we don't have a national holiday honoring the woman. HeLa cells were invaluable in developing the polio vaccine, they were the clue to unlocking the number of chromosomes in human DNA, they were shot into space, exposed to radiation and mixed with plant cells, mice cells, cloned and still contribute every year to the development of new cancer medicine and treatment methods.