Review: My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult


My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Hodder & Stoughton (paperback) 2004

422 pages


New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult is widely acclaimed for her keen insights into the hearts and minds of real people. Now she tells the emotionally riveting story of a family torn apart by conflicting needs and a passionate love that triumphs over human weakness.

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 leukaemia 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. 


When I was little, the great mystery to me wasn’t how babies were made, but why. The mechanics I understood – my older brother Jesse had filled me in — although at the time I was sure he’d heard half of it wrong. Other kids my age were busy looking up the words penis and vagina in the classroom dictionary when the teacher had her back turned, but I paid attention to different details. Like why some mothers only had one child, while others seemed to multiply before your eyes. Or how the new girl in school, Sedona, told anyone who’d listen that she was named for the place where her parents were vacationing when they made her (“Good thing they weren’t staying in Jersey City,” my father used to say).


I can’t really decide if I liked My Sister’s Keeper or not. I loved Picoult’s premise and the idea behind the book. I really didn’t like Brian and Sara Fitzgerald and their decision to have Anna, a child who is basically a cell and organ farm for Kate, their other daughter who has battled leukaemia for 14 years. I found them deplorable. They should not have been allowed to have a child for this purpose. I was angry with these characters a lot of the time. I liked the structure of My Sister’s Keeper and how each chapter is narrated by a different character. I liked the flashbacks narrated by Sara that told the history of Kate’s illness. My Sister’s Keeper has some big flaws though. Picoult rambles a bit too much. Kate’s illness backstory was necessary to the plot. Campbell and Julia’s backstory of their doomed teenage romance was not relevant and bored the hell out of me. The ending was a complete cop-out and infuriated me. My Sister’s Keeper creates a really original moral dilemma where the choices are murky and grey. There is no right or wrong answer. My Sister’s Keeper went downhill when Anna reveals she started the lawsuit because Kate is ready to die and asked her to. Everything sucks after this point and Picoult chooses the ultimate cop-out by having Anna conveniently killed off in a car crash which allows Kate to have her kidney and live. What a crock of shit. 




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