Book Review – My Sister’s Keeper

My Sister’s Keeper is the first I’ve read by Jodi Picoult. It is well written and the plot is very interesting. It is a different kind of drama that revolves mainly around the thirteen year old girl by the name of Anna Fitzgerald. Anna came into this world in a very unique manner. She was specifically designed to match the rare blood type of her sister Kate. Her parents thought this was the best solution to help Kate who is suffering from an acute type of leukemia. The day Anna was born, the doctors drew blood from her umbilical cord to donate to Kate. And as years passed, whenever Kate will be hospitalized, Anna would most likely be made to tag along too. In the course of treating her sister’s fatal illness, Anna was made to donate her bone marrow, stem cells, and blood.

Fast forward to the present and Anna is now thirteen. She is now being asked to donate one of her kidneys for Kate. This time she wants to refuse, and Anna resorts to legal counsel for help. She wants medical emancipation. And this is where the whole gripping drama starts to unfold. The legal battle is emotionally difficult for everyone because Anna is suing her mother, not to mention that Anna is a minor. The court proceedings are held in utmost care to avoid unnecessary trauma to all the parties involved.

I liked the story if only for the fact that it emphasized the importance of making your own decisions in life and relying on no one else other than yourself. At thirteen, even with trembling and cold feet, Anna stood up for what she thought was right. It was not a matter anymore of being selfish or loving a sister any less if she does not want to donate an organ. It’s just all about having enough and saying NO because she feels it so. It did not diminish the love she feels for the family as well. How many of us at such an early age could muster that kind of courage and actually get a lawyer to get what you want? It is no easy decision especially when faced with a dying sister. Although it is fictional, Anna is an inspiration to me because she has the spirit that I don’t have to get the kick I want to happen in my life.

However, the author wasted her efforts in building up the scenes to a very compelling climax and then afterwards settling for a very safe albeit highly improbable denouement. It could have been a very fitting end in the courtroom when the judge knocked his gavel down after deciding the fate of Anna. But the author went for a more sensationalized twist in the last few pages. Sure, the judge granted medical emancipation after all. But then, on her way back home, Anna figured in a car accident that left her brain dead. Her kidney was donated to Kate before the plug to her respirator machine was finally pulled. And miracle of miracles, the organ worked perfectly and Kate lives.

Other than the disappointing twist, this book is highly recommended. Picoult presented the story by shifting first person narratives from one character to the other. It allowed readers to peer through the minds of each of them rather than just being focused on Anna. This style of writing was very effective in conveying the fact that there is no clear delineation to morality. Judging what is right from wrong is never as simple as black and white because we are presented with different perspectives always. It is not easy to judge the parents who are just doing their best to save a dying daughter. It is neither Anna’s fault to refuse to give up her kidney. But as differences arise in a family, love is the only thing that emanates to respect differing opinions and keep them together.