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Who Has The Right To Live?
My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult
Member Name: belfin
My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult
Advantages: Too many to list here
I've been reading reviews for a while now saying how good Jodi Picoult books were and decided it was time to find out for myself. My Sister's Keeper sounded just my cup of tea so after a few weeks of waiting from the library I excitedly started reading it. I wasn't disappointed.
Jodi Picoult, to date, has written 13 novels beginning with her first, way back in 1992 entitled Songs from the Humpback Whale. From then on she has continued to write best selling novels as well as raising three children and her experiences of love and as a parent come though in this thought provoking and often difficult at times to read book, which was published in 2004.
Anna was conceived in a petri dish and is a designer baby. Her hair colour or sex wasn't the important issue, but instead, her genetic make up had to be a perfect match to save her sister, Kate. Initially it was the placenta that was required to help Kate but throughout her childhood Anna has gone through many surgeries to donate blood or bone marrow. Now Kate is in renal failure and Anna, at the age of 13, suddenly decides to take control of her own body and seeks out a successful lawyer to fight on her behalf.
Through the eyes of herself, her parents, her brother, her lawyer and of course through the eyes of her sister, this story is told to us in first person and we get firsthand knowledge of what is going through the characters minds a section at a time on a day to day basis.
The family is of course pulled apart at the news that Anna is effectively ready to let her sister die after 16 years of struggling to hang on to life and the judge recommends that an impartial view would be good in the form of a guardian ad litem. Julia is therefore asked to help Anna through this difficult time and to help decide what would be best for her.
Anna - A troubled girl, named after Andromeda because of her father's love of astronomy, who just wants to live a normal life. We see how a decision such as this can tear her world apart as her inner-self torments her much more than anything her parents say to her. How can she make her family see that all she wants is to be listened to?
Kate - A strong young woman who was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia as a small child. She has bravely battled through illness all her life as she goes from one relapse to another. One thing that does shine through though is her love for her sister who she feels is literally a part of her.
Jesse - The girls' older brother has always felt a bit of a failure in the family, as he wasn't a perfect match to help his sister. This causes him to get into lots of trouble throughout the years, but is a great help to Anna and is always there for her.
Sara - The mother who faces lots of heart wrenching decisions throughout Kate's life, she is completely torn in two as she loves both girls but can't understand why Anna could be so cruel as to want her sister to die, rather than donate a kidney. Unlike the other character's stories, she tells hers from the very beginning when Kate is first diagnosed and as the book unfolds her thoughts are brought up to the present day.
Brian - This brave fire fighter/paramedic finds it difficult to understand why he can save so many lives on a day-to-day basis, yet he is powerless to do anything when it comes to saving his daughter. He shows how torn he is because deep down he realises that Anna may be making the right decision.
Campbell - This successful lawyer reluctantly agrees to take on Anna's case but soon finds himself battling his own demons from the past and is forced to face things he would rather put aside.
Julia - The guardian ad litem has an extremely difficult job here as she is taken on to decide what is best for Anna. Is it better for Anna to lose a kidney or her sister and what will the long-term affect be?
There were many times when I was close to tears reading this book and I found I was completely torn between backing Anna, who I felt had gone through enough, and sympathising with Sara who just didn't want to lose a daughter. I know as a parent I would hate to have to make this decision myself.
My heart also went out to Jesse who always seemed to be overlooked because of his bad behaviour and I desperately wanted to shout out that this was just his way of trying to get some attention. After all one sister was ill and the other was saving her. What room was left for him? It was touching how despite these feelings, he supports Anna when she feels that everyone is against her and is happy to see her standing up for what she believes is right without judging her.
Sara's account of every time Kate fell ill again was very well written and Jodi Picoult captured the essence of love and worry she has for her daughter perfectly. She shows how difficult it must be for anyone in that situation, especially when your child is too young to understand why she is constantly being sick or having severe bleeding. The love she has of Anna is also shown as she watches her healthy daughter go through painful procedures in order to help Kate. I can only imagine how this must feel.
Campbell is a wonderfully complex character, someone who hides his own disability from others to avoid sympathy. However, this has caused his to isolate himself from others as he strives to keep a professional distance from everyone he cares about. His character gradually changes throughout the book and the love interest with Julia keeps you guessing as their past lives add a little bit of romance in a book filled with serious issues.
The ending of this book caught me by surprise and all the loose ends were tied up nicely before we are hit with a life-changing event that affects the whole family. Obviously I won't go into any more details of this, as it would spoil it for potential readers.
When I finished reading this book I felt almost distraught because I felt that the characters had become close friends and I didn't want to discard them and move on to another book. I have to say this, for me, indicates how well written and truly believable the book was. I'm sure in time I will make them my friends all over again.
This story reminds me that everyone should be asked their opinions on big decisions, from the very young to the supposedly older and wiser and that parents should take on board the wishes of their children more, no matter how difficult that may be. Life is precious after all and we may only have one chance.
***Price and Availability***
The price on the back of the book is £6.99 but this is available from Amazon for only £3.99 in paperback form. If however, you prefer the hardback version then it is sold for the published price of £18.99 but you can get it for £14.24 from Tesco.
Paperback ISBN No. 034083546X
Hardback ISBN No. 0340835451
Summary: Fantastic read