July 17, 2024

Read ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ with UMW Book Club

Looking for a way to stay connected to other alumni? We are beginning the next round of reading in our online literary group–the Mother of All Book Clubs!

Alumni read and discuss via a private Facebook group, so only approved members can see posts or participate in the discussion. This is informal and low-pressure–read along with us and chime in on the discussion as much or as little as you like.

Our next selection is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot. Henrietta Lacks was an African American woman whose cells were removed and then cultured without her permission during cancer treatment in the 1950s. In the decades since–and still today–her cells have been reproduced and used in 60,000 medical research studies all over the world. Lacks’ cells have benefited global society immeasurably.

From a review in The New York Times: “…Rebecca Skloot introduces us to the ‘real live woman,’ the children who survived her, and the interplay of race, poverty, science, and one of the most important medical discoveries of the last 100 years. Skloot narrates the science lucidly, tracks the racial politics of medicine thoughtfully, and tells the Lacks family’s often painful history with grace. She also confronts the spookiness of the cells themselves, intrepidly crossing into the spiritual plane on which the family has come to understand their mother’s continued presence in the world. Science writing is often just about ‘the facts.’ ­Skloot’s book, her first, is far deeper, braver and more wonderful.”

Pick up a copy of the book and start reading–we will begin posting discussion questions on Monday, August 24. You might have a small-business bookseller you like to support, or you might want to try your local library system, some of which even offer ebooks. But if you need the book shipped, below are some links to larger online providers.

We look forward to reading with you!


All the best,

The Alumni Relations Team



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