"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Author:  Jodi Picoult
Copyright:  2004
Publisher:  Washington Square Press, a Division of Simon and Schuster, Inc.
423 Pages
Acknowledgments, Prologue, Epilogue, WSP Reader's Club Guide

"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 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.  A provocative novel that raises some important ethical issues, My Sister's Keeper is the story of one family's struggle for survival at all human costs and a stunning moral parable for all time.

Once in a while you come across a book that draws you in so that you, the reader, feel you really know the characters.  They come to life.  Their problems, their feelings, their triumps are all familiar.  You relate.  My Sister's Keeper was one of those books for me.  Jodi Picoult does an incredible job of character development supplemented with carefully researched situations.  It is evident that many hours were poured into these characters, into the topic of cancer and treatments, of firefighting and methods arsonists use, of astronomy. 

When Sara's and Brian's young daughter, Kate, develops mysterious bruising it is discovered she has a rare form of leukemia.  Their son Jesse is tested to see if he is a match for platelets but he isn't and that is when the decision is made to have another child, one whom is sure to be a match, determined by genetic manipulations.  Shortly after Anna is born she becomes a donor, as the umbilical cord is carefully reserved to provide Kate with the first of many treatments in an effort to save her life.

This story raises moral and ethical issues, examines how a crisis such as cancer affects each member of the family.  How does one act and react?  What choices are made, who is seemingly forgotten, what is sacrificed in the efforts to save another? 

At first one is quick to judge the parents. They did, afterall, have one child to save another.  It is easy to begrudge them that.  But then you get to know them.  You laugh with them, you cry with them.  The lines of moral and ethical right and wrong are blurred.  And you wonder, what would I do?  If I were a parent in this situation, wouldn't I do all in my power to save my child?  Does that mean loving one child more than another or is love equal despite all the attentions and energy involved when someone is critically ill? 

There is so much depth in this story and one is sure to discover that the issue is not black and white. Nothing is simple.  Love knows no bounds.  And because one is going through a crisis of that nature, does not mean that all are not loved with equal passion. 

As a mother who has seen a child go through 10 operations over a period of three years, Jodi Picoult understands and puts a portion of herself in this novel.  The emotions are raw and real!  The pain is hard to bear and the reader feels that.  It sears the very soul as you become involved in this family's story.  There is no winning here.  There is only love and hope. 

The surprise ending is upsetting.  I cried.  Not just tears but audible sobs.  The author is known for her plot twists and she does not fail to shock and upset.  That kind of reaction is becoming more rare for readers.  Not many authors create such emotion in their readers.  It is an art in itself and I applaud her for her ability to create that bond with the characters that the emotion is as if the story were real rather than fiction.

Jodi Picoult is enigmatic.  A true master of story telling.  She delves where few have gone before, as in Plain Truth (previously reviewed), and addresses issues that are kept behind closed doors.  Jodi puts them out there for all to see and presents them in a light that denies prejudice but enlightens one's understanding.  Truly, she is one of the best authors out there.

Rated 4.5/5  Graphic situations and descriptions, some language and some sexual content.


  1. I loved this book too! I listened to the Audio version, it was a multi-voice performance from Audible & it was terrific! Plain Truth was another fav of mine. Nineteen Minutes, not so much :( Thanks for your visit~ would love for you to join us at Food for Thought :-)

  2. Thank you, Shirley!

    Jodi Picoult


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