Monday, May 14, 2007

Crying my way through My Sister's Keeper

It has been a very long time since I cried through a book. I have cried for the last two nights at My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. This book came upon my radar screen a couple of weeks ago when it won the Virginia Readers' Choice Award for the high school list. I had never heard of Jodi Picoult or this particular book by her. I must have been living under a rock. It's one of the serendipitous things. You never heard of it, then you do, then you notice it everywhere. They even have a CSI episode with a similar story line. Every store I have been to in the last two weeks, this book has been jumping off the shelves at me. I didn't buy because I was a skeptic. It is on the shelf with all of the other mass market paperbacks, and I usually steer far clear of those. But I checked it out from the local library. I wanted to see what the teens in Virginia saw in this book.

Once I got it, I was informed I only had it for a 2 week checkout. It moved to the top of my pile of things to read. Once I started, I couldn't put it down. Yes, I HAD to put it down because 1) I become so emotional, I couldn't read on, and 2) I had to sleep at some point.

This evening I started up again and read the last 50 pages. I cried some more, gut-wrenching cries.

This book is about Anna and Kate. Kate has a rare form of leukemia and Anna was conceived as a donor match for her. Anna's whole life has revolved around saving Kate. She has undergone numerous procedures to help put her sister back in remission, time and again. When she has to donate a kidney for a procedure that probably won't save her sister's life, she sues her parents for medical emancipation.

Told in varying viewpoints, we hear the story from Anna, Sara (the mother), Brian (the dad), Jesse (the very delinquent older brother), Campbell (the lawyer), Julia (the guardian at litem), and finally from Kate (the ill sister).

What I loved about this book? There was so much controversy! What would I do? How far would I go to save a family member? I think I would do anything. But Anna donates for 13 years before she says she's had enough. The beauty of the alternating viewpoints is that I never once took sides in this book. You might think that you would definitely side with Anna, the protagonist, who really wants medical emancipation. I wonder about the high school students who read and voted for this book. Do they pull for Anna through the whole book OR were they as torn apart as I was?

I couldn't side totally with Anna. I was rooting for her. But at the same time, my mother's heart broke. What would I do if I were the mother? Could I watch my child die when I knew that there was a possibility that her sister could save her? I don't know.

The book is honest! It opens up and shows family emotions and dynamics in a completely honest way. We all probably know families who have been torn apart by situations not unlike this one.

I loved this book because, even though I cried through most of it, it ended differently than I expected. I hated it and I loved it.

This book formed more questions than it answered. With stem cell research progressing rapidly, this is probably happening in real life and real people are having to make these very decisions.

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