Teresa’s Bookshelf: My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Published November 14, 2010 by Teresa

This is me caught up, and I’m back to the original Teresa’s Bookshelf format: one book per post! Let’s see if we can’t keep it this way!

I’ve had this book on my shelf for several years. It was one of those things where when it came out, the book was really popular and everyone was talking about it so I picked it up with every intention of reading it only to have it get lost on my To Be Read bookshelves. After a healthy diet of sci-fi/fantasy-related stuff (and a token “chick lit” book for good measure), I decided I needed to get back to some good ol’, normal contemporary fiction.

Leave it to me to choose the contemporary novel off my shelf that is science fiction in the truest sense – fiction that incorporates current scientific advancements.

I was fascinated by the topic brought up in My Sister’s Keeper: do parents have the right to concieve a child in a test tube for the sole purpose of being a tissue match for a sick child they already have? And if so, do they have the right to continue to expect that the new child continue to donate organs and marrow and platelets without being asked? Does the child have the right to say no if it means the death of their sick sibling? Anna, the 13 year old protagonist of the book (the “designer baby”conceived to be a match for her sister, Kate, who has a rare form of leukemia), thinks that she should, and so she goes to a lawyer and sues her parents for medical emancipation.

Jodi Picoult does an amazing job of examining all sides of this issue by skillfully creating her cast of characters. She allows each character to narrate different chapters in the novel, and each has a distinct, lived-in voice. From 13-year-old Anna, to her mother Sara (40s), to her sarcastic lawyer Campbell, to her older brother Jesse, Picoult pulls off a hell of a ventriloquist act as she careens her characters through a desperate chain of events in which Kate’s life and Anna’s freedom hang in the balance.

In addition to the strength of the characters, Picoult brings the events of the book to a logical conclusion without it being at all predictable. In fact, the ending of the book slapped me in the face! I didn’t see it coming in quite the way it did. Yet, when it happened, I realized that it couldn’t have happened any other way.

My Sister’s Keeper is a book that had me crying as I read the ending on the subway, and had me thinking about it long after I put it down. If you’re looking for a book that will make you examine your own moral and ethical compass as well as make you feel deeply for the characters involved, I’d highly recommend this one.

Currently Reading: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

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One comment on “Teresa’s Bookshelf: My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

  • Funny enough, my blog post tomorrow will be on my 1-year anniversary of donating bone marrow stem cells for a man with MDS (a form of leukemia).

    I don’t think one could ask that of a child, especially a child pressured into “Do this or your sister dies.” It was overwhelming enough to have that choice put on one as an adult for a stranger…and then I’d never see his face or be raised by people who missed him. While I can see why a family might make that choice, I think it’s wrong for the kid. It’s too much to put them through–both the procedures and the expectations.

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