This book took me back to human biology classes and to being told about HeLa cells, named after Helen Lane, human cells that were able to reproduce outside the body, given a favourable growing medium.
There was no 'Helen Lane'. There was however, Henrietta Lacks, an African - American woman and mother of five children whose dying body was the source of the original HeLa cells. This is her powerful, beautifully written story and of the effects that story had on her family, particularly her brave and much troubled daughter Deborah.
There are heroes and villains and a fascinating look into life in the southern states of America before the changes wrought by the Civil Rights movement of the Sixties.
This book works on so many levels. Science students will be interested in the back-story to what to them is a laboratory commonplace, social historians will love the careful reconstruction of the period by Ms Skloot and those who love reading an interesting story on a topic of which they knew little or nothing will find much to enjoy.
It's rare to find non-fiction as lyrically written as this. The prose is wonderful, making this a difficult book to put down. The research was impeccable, this book was 10 years in the making and it shows. A book that should be on the reading list of every science student from GCSE upwards. Magical.