Sunday, January 11, 2009

My Sister's Keeper

I'm in the middle of a fascinating book, My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult.

It's the story of a young girl named Anna, 13 years old, who wants to be medically emancipated from her parents so she can make her decisions on her own body. Turns out she was born, created actually, to be the donor for her sister, Kate who has Leukemia and no one in the family was a match to help her. Her parents used in vitro fertilization to find an embryo that was genetically as close a match to Kate as they could get. Since Anna's birth, she has donated bone marrow, given blood transfusions, gotten shots. Now Kate is in renal failure and they want one of Anna's kidneys to save her. Anna says enough is enough! She finds an attorney to help her and sues her parents. This is where I am in the book.

The story is told, in chapters, by Anna, Kate, her mother, father, brother, doctor, attorney and guardian ad lidem. It's very interesting to see how each person deals with this issue and the issues surrounding them. I think one of the most interesting characters is Jesse, the older brother. He's 18 and has been acting out his whole life because it seems he always gets left by the wayside whenever the drama that is Kate starts up. He's very self-destructive and will do almost anything to get attention. I think, if Kate dies in this book, Jesse will be relieved because then it won't always be all about Kate (and Anna because she's the only one who can help Kate) and the drama will finally stop.

There's a lot more I want to say but if anyone wants to read the book, I don't want to give anything away. What I've said so far is said in the first 50 pages of the book.

It's a very controversial topic. If Kate had been born healthy, Anna would, most likely, never have been born. The parents truly love Anna, but do they love her for what she can give to Kate to keep her alive? Will that love change if Anna goes ahead with the lawsuit and wins? Kate could die. Or Anna could agree to give Kate a kidney, but it will be HER decision to donate and not her parents'. At this point, I don't know that answer because I'm not there in the book.

I'm curious what people think of this book and what they think of the characters. I know I DON'T like the mother, Sara. I really want to bitch slap her silly. I DO like the father... poor man is stuck between a rock and a hard place in all this mess. The funny thing, is, Kate almost seems to not be a character in the book at all! She's more of an issue than a person.

I remember when this happened in real life some years ago (10? 15 years?) I wish I could remember the name of the family. I'm not even sure how to go about researching it in google.

I do remember it stirred up quite a controversy. Is it selfish for parents to genetically engineer the birth of a child to save the life of another child? Is it going too far? Is it fair to the child who was born to save another person? Are they trying to play God? I know their motives were good, but to what cost to the poor kid who has to go through all these medical procedures when she's not even sick? It really is a lot to think about.


Maureen said...

I just finished reading this only a few months ago and the ending was totally unexpected!! I actually cried. I agree that Jesse was the most interesting character. Some of the things he did was crazy.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

wow. Sounds like a dynamic book. I think I'll put it on my list. thanks for the recommendation.

Jim and Garret said...

I was going to buy that book later today but now you've spoiled it! I hope all your pages stick together.

OK, yeah, I don't read. I wuz borned smart.


Liz said...

This was SUCH a powerful book for me. And it opened the door to Piccoult's other novels. She's one of my favorite authors.

I won't say much... but I definitely want to hear your thoughts once you finish the book!

Temple said...

I've read a couple of Picoult's other books and she is a great writer whose stories and characters make you THINK...this one is on my "too read" list!

Queen Bee said...

I've heard about this book and I've wanted to read it. After your post I think I will add it to my list.

I think it's wrong to have a child just to help another. That's what's not fair. I think that's sad.

a mouthy irish woman? ridiculous! said...

oh girl that book is SO thought provoking. perfect match was great too also by the same author.


so many books....i love them all!

read the zoo keepers wife if you get the chance.


Joanie said...

Maureen, Gina told me she cried for a week after reading it.

Pseudo, being a survivor yourself, I'd be curious as to what you think of it.

Liz, I'll email you when I finisah. I don't want to give anything away here.

Heather, I'll look that book up. thanks for the recommendation.

Braja said... it based on the true story?

Joanie said...

Braja, I don't think it was based on a true story but I know of at least one case where it made national news and stirred up quite a controversy.
It was made into a movie and will be released in June. Cameron Diaz plays the mother and Alex Baldwin plays the attorney.

Joanie said...

I finished the book while waiting while John had his surgery. Wow! This book was really good!! I laughed, I cried, this woman is one hell of a writer!