Goodreads Summary: 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.
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? Should you follow your own heart, or let others lead you? Once again, in My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult tackles a controversial real-life subject with grace, wisdom, and sensitivity.
My Thoughts: This was my first Jodi Picoult novel and I did not quite know what to expect from it when I started reading. I often grabbed Jodi Picoult novels in book stores but never really bought them. I received this book as a Christmas present, so it was there in my book shelf all the time waiting for me to be read. I have no idea why I picked it up in the end but I did and I really enjoyed it. I knew that her stories are not the happiest stories out there and that they can be depressing. At least this one definitely is depressing and I know some people who should not read it because it would just not be right for them. This book is not recommendable for persons who enjoy stories with happy endings or funny comedy stories – This book definitely isn‘t that.
But it is something different – it talks about something that can happen to all of us. It talks about having a serious deadly illness and many families are forced to deal with this situation day by day in real life. Jodi Picoult describes the situation from all different perspectives of all family members and all persons involved in the issue. Mainly, it is about Anna who is the healthy sister of Kate who has leukemia. Anna does not want to be treated as a stock of body parts to keep her sister alive. As much as she loves her sister, she just want to be treated as a normal person and wants to feel as loved by her parents as they love Kate.
For the reader, the book is quite challenging since you can kind of understand all positions of all persons involved. It is clear that Kate and her parents want to do anything to keep Anna donating for sister but on the other hand, there is Anna and her feelings. You see where she is coming from. She does not want to be just the donator for Kate. She wants to be herself. She wants her parents to understand that she has her own life and that she cannot just be there to save Kate‘s life.
The novel also shows Jesse‘s position in this family drama. Jesse is the brother of Kate and Anna. He has his own personal problems apart from family problems and does not really get involved in anything. It seems as if nobody really cares about him and that he does not care about anybody else either in the beginning but after a while we can realise that he in fact cares a lot about what is going on in his family and with his sisters:
“What made me believe I might be worth something, even now? What made me think I could save my sister, when I can‘t even save myself?”
The parents are doing all they can to save Kate‘s life and can we really blame them for having another kid genetically prepared to help her sister? Wouldn‘t we all do the same thing if this would be the only way to save our own child‘s life? Of course, it seems as if they love their other two kids more and as if they are just using Anna but over the course of the story, we notice that they really love Anna as much as they love Kate but some of Anna‘s problems just seem to be a bit less important than saving Kate‘s life. Over and over we also notice that Anna really loves her parents and really wants to be with them. She never really wants to go through with the whole suing issue but what other chance does she have?
Many parts of the book made me think about what is ethical correct and morally correct. Should we have a kid that is created with specific genetics? Some people would argue that this is not the natural way and thus, unethical. Also the situation of the lawyer seems pretty bad. Sometimes it is hard to see that he is just trying to do everything to get through with his client‘s case even if that means that Kate has to die. But he manages to explain quite well why he does not really have another chance:
“What is ethical to a lawyer differs from what‘s ethical to the rest of the world. In fact, we have a written code – the Rules of Professional Responsibility – which we have to read be tested on, and follow in order to maintain a practice. But these very standards require us to do things that most people consider immoral. For example, if you walk into my office and say, ‘I killed the Lindbergh baby,’ I might ask you where the body is. ‘Under my bedroom floor,’ you tell me, ‘three feet down below the foundation of the house.’ If I am to do my job correctly. I can‘t tell a soul where that baby is. I could be disbarred, in fact, if I do. All this means that I‘m actually educated to think that morals and ethics do not necessarily go hand in hand.”
This story made me think a lot. It made me think a lot about what is right and what is wrong and in the end I ended up in a dilemma that I would never be able to solve: I could understand all situations of all persons involved which means that everyone is right if you look at the situation from their perspective. In the end, the problem solves itself in a really unexpected way. I had never imagined the book to finish with such a surprising ending.
I enjoyed My Sister‘s Keeper very much but not because of the story itself which in fact is really sad. It is more about the fact that the books made me think and I really like books like this. I could not read them all the time since they are really deep but once in a while I like challenging myself and get myself into thinking about dilemmas such as the one described in this book. I am definitely going to read more of Jodi Picoult’s novels.
More about Jodi Picoult and her novels can be found here.
My Rating: ★★★☆