The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is an amazing book, and the general public found it amazing as well. The book spent an astonishing seventy-five weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. The book stayed on that list for good reason, too. It clearly and cleanly tells readers about the personal life of Henrietta Lacks and some of her family while mixing in the complexities of medical research and medical ethics. It might not be fair to say that the book has a singular main idea, because author Rebecca Skloot gives equal emphasis to the biographical parts and the research and ethics.
When Rebecca Skloot first began researching and writing about Henrietta Lacks, her goal was mainly to provide readers with biographical information about Lacks family. The HeLa cell line had already become incredibly important to medical science, and Skloot wanted to tell the story of the woman behind the cell line. As Skloot dug more and more into Lacks, her family, and the cell line, it became more clear that the medical community took advantage of Lacks and her cells.
Skloot shows readers how those wrongs were never truly righted and how the Lacks family continued to suffer even though medical research was booming due to Lacks's harvested cells. While the book does a wonderful job of walking readers through biographical information about Lacks and her family, the book does an equally wonderful job of propelling readers to care about ethics in medicine and research.