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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010 3:00 pm
A Bestseller with Heart: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Posted by: Donna Seaman

Back in December, in Booklist‘s Spotlight on Sci-Tech, we featured Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life  of Henrietta Lacks, a powerful chronicle of the life of the woman who, unbeknownst to her, gave the world  HeLa cells, the first “immortal” human cells grown in a lab, cells that have made countless medical advances possible for the last five decades. We profiled the author in a Story behind the Story, and we’ve been following the book’s leap onto bestseller lists, and Skloot’s radio and television appearances with great interest and delight. How excititing it is to see such an intelligent, significant, compassionate, and ethical book reach so many readers. Part of the story is the wretched irony of the fact that while the HeLa cells have made lots of folks wealthy, the Lacks family has never been compensated, and indeed Henrietta’s descendants don’t even have health insurance. Skloot has set up the Henrietta Lacks Foundation to help rectify this injustice. And Skloot even held her own on The Stephen Colbert Report:

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