Our critics discuss Rebecca Skloot's book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

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June 18 2010 1:09 PM

DoubleX Audio Book Club: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Our critics discuss Rebecca Skloot's book.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

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This week, the DoubleX Audio Book Club discusses The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which tells the amazing story of a Baltimore woman who died of cancer, but whose cells—which seemed to have some magical power to multiply—were used to power a host of medical advances. In the meantime, author Rebecca Skloot finds out, her own children do not have health insurance and barely understand what an amazing contribution their mother's cells have made.

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DoubleX co-editor Hanna Rosin praises this book as a model work of nonfiction. Her fellow editor Emily Bazelon puzzles over whether people should have any right to be compensated when their cells are used in the service of science. New Yorker writer Margaret Talbot is moved by the final scene, in which Skloot takes the family into the lab to see their mother's cells under a microscope.

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Margaret Talbot is a staff writer for The New Yorker.

Hanna Rosin is the founder of DoubleX and a writer for the Atlantic. She is also the author of The End of Men. Follow her on Twitter.

Emily Bazelon is a Slate senior editor and the Truman Capote Fellow at Yale Law School. She is the author of Sticks and Stones.