My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Posted February 28, 2016 in Book Review / 0 Comments

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi PicoultMy Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Published by Washington Square Press on February 1st 2005
Genres: Adult fiction, Contemporary
Pages: 423
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed
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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.
A provocative novel that raises some important ethical issues, My Sister's Keeper is the story of one family's struggle for survival at all human costs and a stunning parable for all time.

Main points

I loved this book.

I love all of Jodi Picoult’s books. They’re very well-researched and this one is no exception. Lots of medical terminology and some legal stuff. I also love the alternating POVs and found it interesting that we only heard Sara’s present-day POV in the end. A little disappointing, but not too much.

I was honestly a bit confused on a few parts. The point of the book, the actual issue at hand (which I was right to be confused about), and Anna especially. I don’t think she ever admitted in one of her POVs what her actual reasoning was for anything. Hers were just actions and random anecdotes. No real reasoning, and I think I could have expected that from a 13-year-old. Would it have ruined the point of the story? Probably, given what happens, but I’m still justified in being confused about her. It was a bit difficult to form an opinion on what she was doing if I couldn’t see her reasoning. And she didn’t help with her indecisiveness, changing her mind every other day and caving in to whomever she talks to, except Campbell, the one who tries the most to help her. Made me a bit frustrated with her at times. Throughout the entire book I never had a clear idea of what she wanted.

A little background not included in the synopsis: Sara and Brian are Anna’s parents. Anna’s sister is Kate, of course, and their older brother is Jesse. Jesse’s juvie record is a mile long. Campbell is Anna’s lawyer and Julia is her guardian ad litem.

Sara was a character. She seemed to be falling apart most of the time. She couldn’t possible keep track of three kids even close to the same amount with Kate’s illness. And she doesn’t, which explains both Anna and Jesse. It’s ridiculous and unfair but I guess I can understand it. However, a few things she said made me want to shake her because they were so ridiculous. She never really stopped to consider whether Anna might not want to do certain things. She never thought Anna might have feelings about it, oh god forbid. (I remember being really upset when at one point Sara notices the goldfish swimming around and thinks it must be happy. Yeah, sure, the goldfish is allowed to have feelings but not your own daughter. You think of the goldfish’s feelings before Anna’s. UGH. GOLDFISH DON’T EVEN HAVE FEELINGS GODDAMMIT.*) Of course Anna would only want to do everything she could to save her sister, whether or not it ruins her own life in the process. Anna wouldn’t think otherwise. That’s literally Anna’s reason for existing. If Kate hadn’t needed her body parts, she would never have been born. I have so many moral/ethical issues with this, but that’ll be a separate essay. So basically, while I can see how she could get overwhelmed with everything, some things I find about her are really inexcusable. It’s not that she’s not trying, or not trying hard enough. She’s just trying too hard with the wrong things.

Brian was good. Anna needed him. Kate was all right, not that we actually got to see much of her. However, there was a really sad little subplot she had that I think she really underreacted to, given her position. Jesse was a total mess, but also a completely understandable character.

The book was unsurprisingly feels-y. The first, maybe, two-thirds or so had an undertone of quiet depression, punctuated by moments of extreme anger and frustration. The rest was pretty fast-paced and nerve-wracking. Honestly I have to say, it was really distracting when the action was broken up with annoying confusing anecdotes. The kind that you think are supposed to mean something but it would take a while to figure out what. I found myself skipping over those in order to get back into the action, but I always made myself go back and read them. That’s very Picoult-style.

As for the ending…wow. It felt very rushed. Too rushed really to feel the things that would be appropriate. Kind of just felt numb, honestly. I didn’t have time to react properly. This next bit is a tiny spoiler, not the real one, but just to be safe— View Spoiler »I can’t say I liked the ending—in fact I expected quite the opposite—but I guess it was a good one. Well, it wasn’t the worst thing it could have been. Well, I don’t even know. It basically happened the way you’d expect but not with the same details. I don’t know.

Going back a little, to the court case itself­—I dunno, man, but I wasn’t really all that satisfied. View Spoiler »

But yeah, in the end I did love it (I basically am going to just forget about the ending when thinking of this book because it was in fact quite forgettable, just not for the reasons you would expect). It covered a really interesting moral issue—one we’re studying in one of my classes right now, actually. It was of course marvelously well-researched. It had feels. It had a great plot. Great, well-rounded characters. It was realistic, in some cases frustratingly so. Writing was excellent.

I forgot about Campbell’s and Julia’s subplot. Well, it went just about as you’d expect. I think it added almost nothing to the real story. It was cute, but completely irrelevant.

*Don’t judge. I kept goldfish for many years. I like them.

 reaction upon finishing

Um what. Oh…well, okay….

this book in one word


About Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-two novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Between the Lines, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, Nineteen Minutes, and My Sister’s Keeper. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.

Overall: five-stars


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