Monday, May 23, 2011

Review: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

My Sister's Keeper: A Novel
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.-Summary taken from Goodreads

Oh this book! I've seen the movie so I thought I knew what was coming and had prepared myself accordingly. I knew they had changed the ending but I figured it would be slight. I didn't think it would be as drastic a change as it was. Then I got sucker-punched in the gut. Not cool.

As a mother, I had the hardest time reading this. I was completely torn. I wanted to shake Sara and scream at her for obviously favoring Kate and for everything she was putting Anna through. But, on the other hand, if one of my kids was as sick as Kate, I can't say I wouldn't do anything and everything to save them as well. Sara is in an impossible situation and it took me most of the book to truly understand that. It's easy to sit back and say "You need to let go" but we mothers, we just don't let go. Not when it's one of our children.

I don't necessarily agree with the idea of having a 'spare parts' baby but again, none of my children are in need of spare parts so I can't say I wouldn't feel differently if they did. To me, this is where science gets scary. Where does one draw the line? At what point do you stop, stand back and say 'Enough, I won't sacrifice any more of this child for the other'? I think where Anna's parents had the issues, is that she was born specifically for this purpose. So it gets harder to draw the line than it may be for a regular sibling, one who wasn't engineered with her sister in mind. That is why I think the idea of designer babies is a scary one.

Overall, my heart broke for just about everyone in this book. It broke for Anna, being used as a sort of shopping mall of body parts for her sister. It broke for Sara, so overwhelmed by Kate and her disease that she completely forgot about every other portion of her life. It broke for Kate, so tired and beat down by this disease and living with a mother who wouldn't listen to her plea to be let her go. It broke for Jesse, the forgotten child who wasn't sick and couldn't help his sister so he became completely irrelevant to the family. And, it broke for Brian, who'd rather run into a burning building than deal with the collapse of his family.

This book really forces you to examine the question. 'How far do you go?' It's a question I couldn't answer and I hope I never have to. I recommend this book but with a warning, bring tissues.


Lit Addicted Brit said...

I was surprised to really like this book! It isn't usually the kind of thing I go for but it was given to me by my best friend so how could I say no? I remember barely being able to read the end through the tears! Wasn't impressed by the film though...just too different to the book. You raise some great points about the moral implications of the scientific developments too! Excellent post! :)

che said...

Dare I read this one? The movie itself shook me up real bad. Its every mother's worst nightmare come alive. Great review though. Following you now.

Jen D. said...

My sister recommended this book to me and, like you, I was completely sucker punched by it. The ending damn near ripped my heart out. *sigh* No more Jodi Picoult books for me. I can't take the emotional turmoil.

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