My Sister’s Keeper
Title: My Sister’s Keeper
Author: Jodi Picoult
Page Count: 423
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Original Publication Date: 2004
Genre(s): Fiction, Contemporary
You can stay up all night and still not count all the ways to lose the people you love.
When a parent is faced with losing a child, they’d do anything to save that child’s life — even give birth to another child for the sole purpose of saving the other. When Kate Fitzgerald is diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia at age two, Brian and Sara Fitzgerald are heartbroken, as any parents would be. In order to save their daughter’s life, they give birth to a perfectly-designed second daughter, Anna, to be a donor for her sister. It’s much more complicated than that, though, as it always is.
When Anna turns 13 and Kate’s kidney is failing, everyone excepts Anna to do what she always does — give up a part of herself to save her sister. What no one expects is when, at the end of the day, Anna files a lawsuit against her own parents, demanding medical emancipation. But it’s much more complicated than that. It always is.
Wow. It’s been awhile since I’ve reviewed a book, hasn’t it. You can blame The Scarlet Letter for that. I literally could not write a review of that thing. Luckily, My Sister’s Keeper was the follow-up book and I most certainly have prepared a review for you all, so buckle up! I’m back.
I purchased this book at the West Virginia Book Festival a few years ago for my girlfriend. It’s one of her favorite books and she lost her original copy, so I replaced it and decided I, myself, would eventually read it. Took a couple years, but here I am.
The story is told through multiple perspectives in chapters separated by days of the week. For each day, we get various characters’ POVs. Let me start off by saying I really liked this aspect of the novel. This is not just one story, but many. This is not just a novel, but an adult and young adult novel blended together. It’s design is perfect because something like cancer doesn’t just affect the person afflicted, but everyone around them. It is a great way to tell how this trauma affects the entire family and an even wider circle around them.
The story follows this family (and a few other important characters) through Kate’s illness and beyond (does she live? die? we need to know!). It also jumps back and forth through time, often during Sara’s POV chapters, detailing the entire story from Kate’s diagnosis to the present. It’s not a boring story. And it’s certainly not one filled with unicorns and rainbows — life usually isn’t. There’s so many aspects to consider, so many different stories within each individual, that it really takes you on an emotional journey. And the best part is, even with so many different POVs, it never gets confusing. Each character has their own unique voice and story to tell. This really is a masterpiece.
And let me just warn you now, that yes, the ending is one helluva tear-jerker, so get out your tissues, folks!
There are so many characters in this novel. And all with their own faults, shortcomings, and mistakes. But I found a place in my heart for each of them. The characters in this novel feel real. If you’re anything like me, they are real.
Surprisingly, my favorite character of the novel is actually Campbell. Yeah, he’s kind of a dick, but I love him. What a character arc, guys, and what a snarky little bastard. What I enjoyed most was every different excuse as to why he walked around with a service dog. You don’t actually find out why until close to the end. I truly liked his POV chapters the most.
Anna, of course, is a favorite, though she did frustrate me entirely too much. I’m always plagued with the thought while reading/watching something that if people were just honest, things would be a whole lot easier. But then I have to remind myself how hard it is to be honest myself. I related to Anna a lot, especially in terms of her relationship with her mother because, as we’re all sick of being reminded, my relationship with my own mother is fractured. So it was very tough for me to read, especially towards the end. I may not like Sara Fitzgerald too much, but I can appreciate and understand her.
One more character I’d like to mention is Brian, Kate and Anna’s father. I don’t normally read from the POV of an adult man, so it was interesting to see this side of the story. I really liked Brian and thought he’s exactly the type of man I used to want to marry (before I fell in love with my girlfriend, of course). A good heart, a good soul. I really enjoyed his chapters. They were very honest.
This is my first Picoult novel, though I know she’s incredibly popular and has been for a long time. I think her writing is engaging and honest, especially her dialogue. I saw a ton of negative reviews for this book on Goodreads, especially about her dialogue and the ending. I thought the dialogue was great and perfectly captured each one of her characters and their appropriate age. The ending was hard, but I think it was the right choice for this book.
What’s odd is that, on this rare occasion, I actually watched the movie before reading the book. Well, let me tell you something… the movie is godawful and I’m glad it barely resonates in my memory. Seriously. It’s like a little blip in my mind, but it sucked compared to this masterpiece. I don’t really think this should have been adapted. There’s too many stories to tell. Too much to say and break down into a little movie. It’s like taking a 3D cube and flattening it into a 2D square. Harsh, I know, but I really liked this book, and I just don’t think it adapted well.
Anyway, I liked this a lot more than I thought I was going to, and probably only read it because it’s near and dear to my girlfriend’s heart. She makes me read outside my usual zones and I like that. This was a fantastic novel. Prepare for the quotes…
–“I have only known her for two years. But if you took every memory, every moment, if you stretched them end to end—they’d reach forever.”
–“It is so easy to think the world revolves around you, but all you have to do is stare up at the sky to realize it isn’t that way at all.”
–“The bottom line is that we never fall for the people we’re supposed to.”
–“Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it’s not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.”
–“Sometimes to get what you want the most, you have to do what you want the least.”
–“You don’t love someone because they’re perfect. You love them in spite of the fact that they’re not.”