Jodi Picoult – My Sister’s Keeper
116. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult (2004)
Length: 448 pages
Genre: Young Adult
Started: 24 November 2007
Finished: 25 November 2007
Summary: Anna has been saving her sister Kate’s life since she was born – in fact, that’s the reason why she was born. Kate has leukemia, and in the hopes of finding a matching donor, their parents had Anna via IVF. She’s undergone blood transfusions, marrow donations, all the while knowing the whole reason for her life is to save that of her older sister. Now Anna is thirteen, Kate’s in the late stages of renal failure, and Anna is expected to donate a kidney to her sister. Anna, however, decides to sue her parents for medical emancipation, even though it will cost her sister her life and will tear her family apart.
Review: I will be honest; I didn’t want to like this book. I went into it telling myself not to be manipulated by the heartstring-tugging I knew was coming, not to fall victim to the idea that because it was a book about an Important Issue that it was therefore a good book. I had all of this incredible resolve… and this book washed it all clean away. I was sucked in to the story very quickly, and something about this book must have chipped away at my cold dead heart, because apart from just caring about the characters and being engaged in the story, I actually cried, not once, but several times (very rare!). This book does an excellent job of creating real, multidimensional characters and presenting all sides of a horribly thorny issue, although I found it much harder to sympathize with the mom than I did with Anna – probably because I don’t have children of my own. It makes the reader ask a lot of tough questions about what one life is worth when balanced against the needs of another, and about who gets to make those kinds of judgement calls – questions that, 450 pages later, I still can’t satisfactorily answer. In general, I thought everything was handled really well, right up until the very end – and even then, I can see why Picoult chose the ending she did, although I didn’t care for it, and it’s not the one I would have chosen. In a book like this, I’m not even sure what possible ending would be satisfying – as Anna says, in a situation like her family’s, no one really wins. 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: The best book that falls into the Oprah-esque category (i.e. about families and love and grief and responsibility and Serious Ethical Issues) that I’ve ever read. Recommended, particularly if you’re in the mood for a good cry.