The author uses a number of similes to explain scientific concepts. For example, she writes, "a cell looks a lot like a fried egg" (page 3). Another example is "The cytoplasm buzzes like a New York City street" (3). Using similes allows the author to put scientific concepts into layperson's terms and make complicated concepts more accessible to the reader. She also uses metaphors to explain scientific terms related to the cell. For example, she writes, "Little cytoplasmic factories work 24/7" (3). In this metaphor, the cytoplasm of a cell, or the material in the cell (excluding the nucleus), to a factory operating around the clock, as the cytoplasm is filled with activity.
The author also uses effective similes to help the reader understand Henrietta Lacks's experiences. For example, she writes, "For Henrietta, walking into Hopkins was like entering a foreign country where she didn't speak the language" (16). This simile helps the reader understand how strange it was for Henrietta to enter Johns Hopkins and how little agency she felt there as a black woman.
The author uses pathetic fallacy when she suggests that the storm at Henrietta's funeral was trying to tell her family something. On page 92, the author describes the violence of the storm and then quotes Henrietta's cousin Peter, who says Henrietta was trying to convey an angry message to her family (which is that her cells had been collected without her permission).