Friday, June 18, 2010

.: My Sister's Keeper :.

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 questioned… 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?

One thing that I don’t like when reading books by the same author is that you will get used to their signature writing style – and its true to the word – there can be too much of a good thing. But since it’s been a while since I last I picked a Jodi Picoult’s book – I believe it’s about the right time for me to get a lil booster jab of Jodi. And I guess I did a good choice by picking up this book MY SISTER’S KEEPER. Well, one can’t really go wrong on picking a novel that was made into a movie can they? Or perhaps they could (Read here for my review on a Night In Rodanthe).

In this book Jodi uses the first person style of narrative, switching between Anna, Kate, Sara (Anna’s & Kate’s mom), Brian (Sara’s husband), Jesse (the girl’s elder brother), Campbell (Anna’s attorney) & Julia (court appointed guardian of Anna). Gently touching on the tip of a sensitive topic of stem cell research or more specifically “designer babies” (this is expanding on her research of genetic modifications in Second Glance) – Jodi has really done a good job on bringing up just so very lightly and appropriately topics like these. Read novels such as The Pact (teenage suicides) or The Perfect Match (child molestations) or Song of the Humpback Whale (wildlife preservation) and you get what I mean when she just brings up these issues but it does not taint by becoming the central part of the theme of the novel.

The story basically tells of a thirteen year old Anna who decides to sue both her parents for medical emancipation when she was expected to donate a kidney to her sister Kate who is suffering from acute promyeloctic leukemia (a type of blood cancer). Anna, short for Andromeda (no kidding!) was “created” from a geneticist that help her parents select the embryo from which they can create a sibling that matches Kate genetically. From the day that she was conceived she has “donated” her umbilical cord, her bone marrow, platlets, blood and cells in order to save Kate’s life. And now that they are asking for one of her kidney – she refuses.

Anna comes across to me like a cold-heartless sister (as I wouldn’t even think twice to give away a part of me in order to save my brother’s life) but her persistency as well as her remained-undisclosed reason for suing her parents really got me flipping the pages to find out why.

On the other hand, it was a love-hate relationship for me and this Sara character, as she seems to be change between the antagonist and protagonist role. As Jodi so correctly pointed out in her Q&A at the end of the book – “Sara is going to generate a bit of controversy. She is an easy culprit to blame in this nightmare…and yet I would caution readers not to rush to judgement.” Spot on as towards the end of the novel, I started to empathize with her.

Needless to say, this novel ends with a sharp twist, which prompt me to rethink of the prologue earlier read

“In my first memory, I am three years old and I am trying to kill my sister…

… In the end, though, I did not kill my sister. She did it all on her own. Or at least this is what I tell myself.”

A novel brilliantly written!

For my reviews on Jodi's novels I have read earlier, please refer to here and here.

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