I expected this book to be about the Henrietta Lacks (Hela) cells and how important they were to science, contrasted with how miserable Henrietta's life was and how little her family benefited from the cells. Those elements were there; no one could have missed them. However, the author spent a lot of time with Henrietta's daughter Deborah, helping with Deborah's desperate search for information about her mother. And the book became more about Deborah and that search than anything else. It was an interesting story, but just that.
I think the author missed the opportunity for a much more powerful book by not spending a lot more time explaining the scientific importance of the cells, and how other people – including both the researchers and industry and the general public – benefited from the cells. Those elements were mentioned, but almost “in passing”. Instead the author got so caught up in Deborah's life that she seemed to lose sight of the cells themselves and the larger story.