One Book Archive

Highlights GRC's One Book Program selections from years past

2011/2012 One Book Selection

The Movie

In 2017 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was made into an HBO movie by Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball.

Video still, Oprah Winfrey in the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Resources for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks


About The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance.

Source: " The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks book trailer " by Rebecca Skloot , is licensed under a Standard YouTube License.

This New York Times bestseller takes readers on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers filled with HeLa cells, from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia, to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew. It’s a story inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we’re made of.

Reading Guides:
About the Author, Rebecca Skloot

Rebecca Skloot is an award winning science writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine; O, The Oprah Magazine; Discover; and many other publications. She specializes in narrative science writing and has explored a wide range of topics, including goldfish surgery, tissue ownership rights, race and medicine, food politics, and packs of wild dogs in Manhattan. She has worked as a correspondent for WNYC’s Radiolab and PBS’s Nova ScienceNOW. She and her father, Floyd Skloot, are co-editors of The Best American Science Writing 2011...

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks began as a an extra-credit assignment for Rebecca Skloot's community college biology class! Read more about her decision to write the book below.

Bio from

Source: " Rebecca Skloot explains how she writes about science " by Rebecca Skloot , is licensed under a Standard YouTube License.

Rebecca Skloot, science writer and author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, explains the writing techniques she uses to bring science to life, by telling stories that intersect science and daily life in a way that shows how both sides think and interact.

Video still of scientist

"Immortal Cells" from Films on Demand

Title screen from video Hela Cells

"Immortal Cells Turn 96" from Films on Demand

Video still from "The Way of All Flesh" showing photo of Henrietta Lacks and husband

"Cancer Cell Research: The Way of All Flesh" from Films on Demand

Read More at the Holman Library