Jodi Picoult – My Sister’s Keeper


It’s a parent’s worst nightmare: their two year old daughter being diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia, and no one in the family being a bone-marrow match. They can go on the ‘list’, for an unknown donor, but, the odds of finding the perfect match are scarce. So, they have another baby. Nope, not to ‘replace’ their ill daughter, but to save her. The new baby, a ‘designer’ baby, has been created to be a perfect match for her sister…

And now, at the age of thirteen, Anna wants out, and she’s suing her parents for medical emancipation. Kate, her sister is sixteen, and while she had been in remission, the cancer came back. Her entire life, Anna has been saving Kate’s life – blood transfusions, bone marrow transplants, etc. And now, Kate’s kidneys are giving up, and Anna is expected to be the donor.

However, Anna has a different idea, and finds a lawyer, and takes her family to court over the rights to her own body. While one can’t blame her for this decision – every activity of her life is dependent on her sister; be it camp, or be it a friend’s birthday party – one does wonder what finally triggers this decision. Is she ready for a life independent of her sister? Or, has she finally been pushed too far? Is it because she’s always been invisible to her parents, but for Kate? Or, is it because she was created for a ‘purpose’, and never really had the ‘childhood’ most kids do? Or, is it something completely different?

This unbearably sad, emotional and heart-breaking story follows Anna’s battle against her parents, and the family’s battle to stick together, while everything seems to be coming apart at the seems. There’s Jesse, the brother who is a juvenile delinquent; there’s Brian, the father, an amateur astronomer and a full time fireman, and there’s Sara, the mother, the ex-lawyer, the obsessive protector of Kate.

The book explores the points of view of every member of the family, with each chapter being narrated by one member. Campbell, Anna’s lawyer, and Julia, Anna’s guardian ad litem have their fair share of narrations as well, and this brings the whole book together incredibly. We aren’t restricted to the views of just one actor, and as readers, we are allowed to sympathize and empathize with all of them. Your heart goes out to thirteen year old Anna, who’s confused, and while one would assume selfish, can you really blame her? You can almost feel Sara’s anger towards Anna on hearing her decision, as she’s motivated by keeping Kate alive. And then there’s Brian – the sensible objective parent, who’s more rational and sticks by Anna. Of course there’s Jesse, and you can’t help but feel sorry for him…. he couldn’t be the perfect match for his sister! The characters grow and evolve through this book, and you can see how each decision and action tears them apart, while simultaneously, bringing them together.

The book delivers this punch at the end, which you just don’t see coming, and that’s what hits the hardest. Life has this weird way of balancing out, and sometimes, it’s not a fair or fine balance.

It’s a contemporary book, exploring arguments and controversies that persist in the medical world today: from ‘designer babies’ to ‘stem cell research’. It’s fascinating, as you wonder, do parents really always know what’s best for their children? Is Sara acting on what’s best for Anna, or what’s best for Kate? And it boggles your mind, to see a thirteen year old girl being adult enough to stand up for something she wants, despite ambivalence being rampant in her heart and mind. No one can doubt, for even an instant, that the two sisters don’t love each other a lot.

Rating: 5

6 Responses to “Jodi Picoult – My Sister’s Keeper”

  1. 1 Susan

    Good review!

    My Sister’s Keeper is the first Jodi Picoult book I read; I posted about it on my book blog a few weeks ago. I also saw the movie when it came out — there are some notable differences between the book and the movie.

    • 2 uncertainprinciples

      It was my second. I didn’t enjoy the first one, so was skeptical about this one. Really enjoyed it though. Would you recommend the movie?

  2. 3 Susan

    If you don’t mind a dramatically different ending, then yes, I recommend the movie.

    • 4 uncertainprinciples

      Hmm, that might actually be a good thing. Keeps the viewer guessing ’til the end… Thanks!

  3. I loved this book and I’m anxious to see the movie! I really hope it does the novel justice.

    • 6 uncertainprinciples

      Well, they’ve gotten rid of Julia. That has to be a plus, right? (Didn’t think she added much to the story, to be honest). Do let me know what you think of the movie. I haven’t seen it yet.

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