Book Review: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Book: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Published: Atria Books, 2004
Genre: Fiction
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate -- a life and a role that she has never challenged...until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister -- and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves.
My Sister's Keeper examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child's life, even if that means infringing upon the rights of another? Is it worth trying to discover who you really are, if that quest makes you like yourself less? Should you follow your own heart, or let others lead you? Once again, in My Sister's Keeper, Jodi Picoult tackles a controversial real-life subject with grace, wisdom, and sensitivity. An amazing read and an incredible experience.

My thoughts: My Sister's Keeper is the second Jodi Picoult novel that I have read. There was a lot of hype around it a few years back when I actually acquired my copy but it took me awhile to pick it up off my shelf. After reading a bunch of less than mediocre fiction recently, I was very pleased with my choice to read it now. It took me only about two and a half days to read once I picked it up. Picoult hooked me right from the start. This was one of those books that I stayed up reading vigorously into the night. Definitely very thought provoking. Picoult may have a formula for her novels (at least from what I've read)- the family torn apart by a life shaking event, a dramatic courtroom trial and a shocking twist at the end, but it works.

Sara and Brian Fitzgerald find out that their daughter, Kate, has leukemia at age two. Her last hope is to have blood donated to her, but nobody in her family is a match. That's when the parents decide to have another child who will be able to save Kate. Thus, Anna is born, a perfect genetic match for her sister Kate. Over the years, Kate's leukemia causes problem after problem and Anna is expected to be there to donate whatever piece of her Kate needs to live. At age thirteen, Anna is tired of having her body invaded for her dying sister so she hires a lawyer to help her become medically emancipated from her parents.

I loved the characters and the way the story was told from each person's point of view. I felt so torn over who to side with. It also made me terrified to ever have children. It goes to show that not everything in life can be defined by right and wrong. I loved seeing the way Anna's choice to sue her parents brought her closer with her troubled brother, Jesse, and how her father stuck by her. Amidst crisis, the family was still a family, as we saw the touching moments she shared with her mother throughout the trial. I also really enjoyed seeing Campbell and Julia's story play out. The only issue I had was with the ending. I was expecting a twist (there were actually a couple here) but it still made me angry that there wasn't the happy ending, or at least the ending we were expecting. There was a huge buildup to the end of the Fitzgerald family's trial and Kate's future and then bam! Picoult blindsides us. It was still a very well put together story, I just have a bone to pick with Ms. Picoult. How dare you do that to me! I can't really say much more than that without giving anything away, but if you have not read this yet, I suggest you do. And make sure you have a box of tissues!

The verdict: 4 stars 

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