Tuesday, May 12, 2009

GUEST REVIEW: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult, reviewed by Jenny

(Inspired by Eva and her mom read-a-thoning together, I've been wanting my family to join in on a little bit of reading fun. My mom, Jenny, is reviewing My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult here on my blog. She definitely will offer you a different review from the ones I post. It is nice to have a change of pace every once in a while!)

(From 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.

Without first knowing it would contain everything I like in a book under onecover – medical, mystery, legal/ethical dilemma, I found myself drawn to MySister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult who I have never read before.

On the one hand the way the book is written (in multiple points of view) really draws you in. At the same time it jumps around so much that it circumventsthe entire telling of the most important discussion of the book (Kate and Annatalking about Anna’s donating a kidney to Kate).

I mistakenly read the book so I could figure out if Kate gets her kidneyinstead of reading it as a mystery trying to solve why Anna files the lawsuitfor medical emancipation other than “so you know how it feels to not have anycontrol over your body?” as stated on page 387.

The book is about two sisters, Kate and Anna, who are closely linked by medicalcircumstances. I too was close to my sister although for very differentreasons. I am 10 months and 3 days older than my sister. So strong was ourbond that my mother dressed us alike until we were about 10 years old and weshared a bedroom till I was about 15 years old. It is this reason I “get”how hard it is to form one’s own identity.

Sisters, Kate and Anna are so close in fact Anna says on page 92, “ Kate andI are like Siamese twins; you just can’t see the spot where we’reconnected.” During the court proceedings, the defendant’s expert witness,a psychologist states on page 387, “there are several studies that indicatechildren who serve as donors have higher self-esteem, and feel more importantwithin the family structure. They consider themselves superheroes, becausethey can do the one thing no one else can.”

During the course of the book I never stop questioning Anna’s mother’s(Sara) love for her. Can you love equally and still favor one child? Idon’t believe so especially since the “love” Sara has for Kate seemssolely based on keeping her family intact. So their mother’s choices forthem are fear based instead out of love. Although any mother may desire thisit also seem selfish to me.

Sadder even still is that Sara has managed to convince Anna she’s made thesechoices out of love. If that were so, wouldn’t her parents have discussedthe situation with both girls? Her parents major failing is they don’t askeither girl’s feelings.

So here’s the part where my motherly advice comes to play. All parents messup – if only in our children’s eyes. No matter how good our intentions,WE WILL MESS UP!!! Our best chance in nuturing our children’s love is togive them what they most desire - equality. Children can forgive our mistakesif they felt loved. (Love is the only thing that covers a multitude ofmistakes.) Love cannot blossom if there is a preference shown for one childover another.

Even though it’s a long shot, it is possible to figure out if Anna wins thelawsuit; however, you won’t be able to figure out how it ends!!! The endingmay be the worst ending I’ve ever read. So bad, in fact, I threatened totear out the last couple chapters and instead write the answer to does Kate getthe kidney? before passing it onto my daughter. Even though I am a parent I did not relate or empathize with Sara. Herdecisions wind up being disastrous because someone dies without ever havingfelt accepted, which is the worse than the books actual ending.

WARNING: If you’re one of those who read the last couple of pages of a bookto decide if you want to read a book, DON’T!!!! or you will miss out onreading a overall very satisfying book. . . regardless of the ending.