The book explores both a scientific and spiritual explanation as to why HeLa cells are still thriving today. Skloot demonstrates how the Lacks' struggle to understand how Henrietta can be dead when her cells are still so alive. This struggle raises the question, what does immortal mean? Scientifically, HeLa cells are immortal because the enzyme telomerase continues to repair the telomeres found at the ends of DNA strands so the cells do not lose important DNA during replication. To the Lacks' Henrietta herself is immortal because she lives on in her HeLa cells. Others may not be satisfied with either explanation. Perhaps Henreitta is immortal because her story will continue to be told for many years to come.
At times I found this book difficult to read. Being a biology major, the scientific explanation made perfect sense to me and I struggled to understand why Henrietta's daughter, Deborah, found it so hard to comprehend. I had to continually remind my self that Henrietta's family has not been lucky enough to receive the same education I have. On the other hand, without Henrietta's contribution science may never have advanced to this point. In a way I am learning because of the sacrifice made by the Lacks family. It reminds me that God has a reason for every event in our lives, even if we are unable to see it. "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails" (Proverbs 19:21).