My Sister's Keeperby Published 01 Feb 2005
|My Sister's Keeper.pdf|
|Publisher||Washington Square Press|
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.
A provocative novel that raises some important ethical issues, My Sister's Keeper is the story of one family's struggle for survival at all human costs and a stunning parable for all time.
My Sister's Keeper Reviews
"There are some things we do because we convince ourselves it would be better for everyone involved. We tell ourselves that it's the right thing to do, the altruistic thing to do. It's far easier than telling ourselves the truth."
When Sara Fitzgerald discovers that her daughter Kate suffers from leukemia, she decides that she will fight for her child’s life at all cost. Even if that cost is someone else’s life. And this is how Anna is born. The girl who has never belonged to herself, whose light has been smothered before having even touched the surface of her existence.
"But ever since then, we've been too busy looking over our shoulders to run headlong into growing up. You know how most little kids think they're like cartoon characters - if an anvil drops on their heads they can peel themselves off the sidewalk and keep going? Well, I never once believed that. How could I, when we practically set a place for Death at the dinner table?"
I believe it is everyone’s duty and right to help others. I believe it is everyone’s duty and right to help themselves. As a former lawyer, Sara sometimes doubts her decision to give up her career in the name of the family. She struggles with it. She does not have doubts whatsoever where her two daughters are concerned and about the role each of them needs to play in the other’s life. But when doubts go away, do we stop fighting? Sara keeps struggling. Even though she is confident in her choice. Does pain go away along with doubts? Not always. Sometimes it is exactly when we know that we are right that the pain is the strongest. When Anna files a lawsuit against her parents, wanting a medical emancipation, she has no doubt that her daughter is in the wrong, that she wants to escape her responsibility to keep the family together by keeping her sister alive. When we cannot save those we are responsible for, do we have the right to bestow this responsibility on someone else and expect them to act as we would? Even Anna herself cannot give us the response. She is not confident in her choices, because, really, she is faced with an impossible situation.
"If you have a sister and she dies, do you stop saying you have one? Or are you always a sister, even when the other half of the equation is gone?...I didn't come to see her because it would make me feel better. I came because without her, it's hard to remember who I am."
She does not accept being her sister’s guardian and not having a life of her own, she does not accept being independent and thus dooming her sister to death. Sometimes there is no right choice, there is not a happy ending, there are no heroes and villains. Only doubts. There is no right path for Anna. No matter what she chooses, she cannot live with it, she cannot be happy, she cannot forgive herself. Dying physically is only one form of dying. Some of us die constantly, through the choices we –and others - get or don’t get to make. Through the many ifs and maybes and missed or wrongly chosen opportunities we face. Anna’s life is not her own, regardless of what choice she makes. For her it is over before having even begun. I know next to nothing about genetic engineering, but Anna’s story shows me that there is only so much we have the right to ask of another person. There is only so much we have the right to create. I do believe in the noble motives of Sara Fitzgerald, but I do not believe in the validity of her choice. She decides to create a child with the intent to sacrifice it for the other one’s sake. All her love and care for Anna do not make up for that. Anna does not know where her place is, she feels like there isn’t really a place for her. And the universe seems to agree with her. She never gets to make the choice she so dreads of. At the time she finally receives her much craved freedom, she leaves this world. The child that never had to exist stops existing. There is no more struggle, no more dilemmas. It is over.
"There are orphans and widows, but there is no word for the parent who loses a child. It turns out that after all these years I have spent anticipating this, I am completely at loss. Like coloring the sky in with a crayon; there is no language for grief this big. I wait for a change. And then I feel it, as her heart stops beating beneath my palm - that tiny loss of rhythm, that hollow calm, that utter loss."
Through what Kate receives from her body after Anna is gone, a medical miracle happens and she seems to have gotten recovered from her disease. There are no more relapses. Doctors cannot explain it, but Kate believes that it is because Anna’s death makes up for her own. But what life will Kate have from now on? Will she be able to handle the cost at which she has it?
When I start to feel this way I go into the bathroom and I lift up my shirt and touch the white lines of my scar. I remember how, at first, I thought the stitches seemed to spell out her name. I think about her kidney working inside me and her blood running through my veins. I take her with me, wherever I go.
When we offer somebody a gift, especially the gift of life, we do not always realize or want to realize what we offer them along with it. Do I believe that it was better for Anna to die than to have to live dealing with the consequences of how she was brought to this world? No. Do I believe she should have been born at all? The answer again is no. Kate keeps on living, but with feeling that she cheated death, that she lives somebody else’s life, bearing within herself the same feeling of wrongness her sister struggles with while alive. I do not believe that our survival and the one of those we love is worth all cost. I do not believe in Sara’s choice. After all is said and done, she still ends up with a dead child and those she is left with are scarred for life. But I do not blame her for it. I understand her and I feel for her. I think that it is understandable why someone in her situation cannot see things the way I describe them. It is understandable why she cannot fathom the consequences and the price that comes with her choices.
"It is the things you cannot see coming that are strong enough to kill you."
We are all told all the time how important it is to do the right thing. Sometimes the right thing is too much to ask for. Often right and wrong are not even part of the equation. In a battle in which there are no winners, where there is no right and wrong, where all you can count on are your instincts, hoping that they are there for a reason, that they mean something, that in the end they are worth more than any moral that chains you when you are desperately trying to break free and take a step, any step that may turn the wheel, break the glass, chase away the shadow, bring back the pulse in your body, you know better than to hope that you will keep your hands clean. All you have is the hope that when the battle is over, you will have the strength to pick up the bodies and bury them.
Read count: 1
Anyone who has a kid has probably, at one point or another, battled with them at bedtime. That's what I do, every night. There is much yelling, crying, begging and pleading. It's horrible.
Kid #3 is out like a light, so she's not part of the problem. Kid #2 puts up a good fight, whining and tantrum throwing, but eventually she succumbs to her sleepiness. Kid #1, however... well, she's another story altogether.
At night, she's afraid of everything and feels that if she sleeps something will get her. But she's not invincible, she has to sleep sometime. So after being assured that she's safe, she'll lay down and relax--this can only happen in the master bedroom, because in her mind the master bedroom is safe from everything.
Once she's been lulled into blissful unconsciousness either me or my husband will move her to her room. Typically this goes off without a hitch. But every once in a great while she wakes up and totally freaks out, because she realizes she was tricked. By her own parents, no less. She feels betrayed. She doesn't believe us when we swear that we won't move her again (because we will and she knows it). And so, because of her her general mistrust, her fear of everything, not to mention all the sobbing, she is awake for another couple of hours, at least. The whole situation is very dramatic and it totally sucks.
How does this relate to My Sister's Keeper? It doesn't--not exactly but I do have a point. Let me explain. I spent years avoiding Jody Picoult's books like the plague. They frightened me. I don't know why. Perhaps it's the fact that every woman over thirty can't stop raving about Jody Picoult books, which means they're probably not my 'cuppa tea'. It may even have something to do with the fact that the woman has the ability to crank these insanely thick books out like she's some sort of writing machine from hell. I don't know, it just doesn't seem natural. Besides, no author is capable of writing so fast. At least, no good author can do such a thing, amirite?
But finally, after being assured that Jody is actually quite talented, that her books are intriguing and worthwhile, I relented and picked up Nineteen Minutes. And you know what? It wasn't horrible. Actually, I kind of liked it. Alright, I admit it--I liked it a lot. It wasn't the best book ever, but it was the sort of book that makes you think, stays with you after you're finished reading it. *shrugs* I happen to like that sort of thing.
So I immediately picked up My Sister's Keeper. And I liked it too. In fact, I was only half way through the book when I was positive I'd be giving it four stars. Sure the sub-plot about the lawyer and the child advocate falling in love was incredibly stupid, but could I blame Jody for throwing it in? No. I'm sure her target audience expects that sort of thing to be in every book they ever read. So I was willing to forgive it. I even forgave all the cheesy cliches.
Because sometimes I'm able to ignore stupid subplots, ridiculous cliches, irritating characters (and by irritating I mean 'so monstrous they deserve to die a horribly drawn-out and painful death'. Yes, I'm talking about the mother in this book), formulaic--that's a word, right?--writing and even the lack of good editing when a story has peaked my interest. It happened when I was reading Twilight and it happened while I was reading this book.
Besides, I'd already come to the conclusion that I'd like this book because I liked Nineteen Minutes. I even had visions of myself adding Jodi Picoult to my list of favorite authors, adding the whole of Jodi Picoult's published works to my TBR list, happily reading said books on the beach over summer break--it was going to be so awesome!
But then, when I was nearly finished with this book, Jodi Picoult went and ruined everything. EVERYTHING! I don't even have the desire to finish this book. I feel manipulated, betrayed, lied to, cheated, and totally violated! I also feel incredibly stupid for thinking that Jodi Picoult was a good writer. Because she's not. She totally sucks and I hate her.
So. Even though I've wasted hours of my life reading, and thinking about, Jodi Picoult novels, it hasn't been all bad. I've learned two things from this whole experience. First, I should trust my initial instincts when it comes to books. Second, I'm an a-hole for lying to my kid. It's no wonder she doesn't trust me, and she'll probably need years of therapy because of it. I wouldn't blame her if she threw me in a really bad nursing home someday.
I gave this book two stars because it isn't horrible until the end. That's when Picoult whips out the most manipulative, unnecessary twist, and thus ruins the whole experience.
Now let us never speak of this again.
This was a horrible read.
Premise: Great. Should be really interesting.
Ending: Basically the worst ending I've ever read in anything. Ever.
Wish: I wish someone had spoken up after the first read and called out the author on some of the really bad plot devices and decisions in this book. Just like someone should have stopped George Lucas before Episodes 1-3. This could have been good- really good. But it just wasn't.
This book was stunning. In writing, in style, in plot, in character! It truly is one of those books that you really can't stop reading. Especially for me, because in a way it took me back to my Lurlene McDaniel days. Did anyone ever read her? She was always writing books about different teenagers and young children with terminal illnesses. I was addicted to those books. So it was no surprise when the young reader in me sort of jumped up when I saw a friend of mine reading this book and she described it to me.
Boy was it a book well chosen. Picoult writes from the views of a few different key characters, allowing the reader to get an extremely well-rounded look at the story. At first the jumping from character to character is a little jarring and you have to keep reminding yourself that it's a new character, but eventually you get into the vibe of the book and wouldn't have it written any other way. The one thing Picoult does perfectly is make you torn. You really don't know who to support in a case like this. At times you find yourself leaning towards Anna, and other times wanting desperately to shout your support for Sara, the poor mother in this situation.
With the readers information of other characters points of views and knowledge, the whole case is a lot more difficult to have a desired verdict towards. In the end a decision is made, a decision that, while reading the book, I was constantly wondering what Picoult was going to do, because either way one fully supported side was going to lose. But the way she really ends the book puts results to rest in a solid, yet emotionally unsatisfying ending. The ending it by no means bad, quite the contrary it was beautiful and settling, but at the same time you don't know whether to be relieved that there was an extremely closed ending without debate, or to cry. I won't tell you why, and I may have said too much already. But this book is just incredible and I highly advise you try to read it as soon as possible.
this book is a shameless and unskillful manipulation of human emotions. i felt dirty when i was done with it. the story is on par with cheap natural disaster movies like deep impact that are formulated to tug at your heartstrings in very predictable ways. the author painfully over uses the dramatic blackout technique where she writes a line that's trying too hard to be clever or profound and then fades to black - aka, leaves extra space before the next paragraph or ends a chapter - sometimes with no time break between one sentence and the next. such a cheap trick - does this impress anyone any more?
the author writes the entire novel as a cliff hanger - another piece of shameless manipulation that i despise - with the whole novel spanning no more than a few days. she builds up plot points that don't deliver; when she finally reveals characters' motivations, they end up being pretty lame justifications for their actions.
the sideline love story was completely predictable - old sweathearts with a bad breakup who are suddenly thrown into a situation together. woman resists, man persists, woman gives in to romantic evenings and sex, illustrating once again that women don't really know what they want and no doesn't really mean no and if you push hard enough you can have your way with any woman.
needless to say, i don't recommend this book.