Monday, February 25, 2008

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

In My Sister's Keeper, Jodi Picoult brings to life the questions of stem cell research and genetic engineering through the book's main character, Anna, and her family. Anna, at age 13 has given bone marrow, stem cells and blood to her older sister Kate. And now her parents are asking her to give Kate a kidney as well. After all, it's what Anna was born to do.

When Kate was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia at age 3, her parents decided to have another child, genetically engineered to be a match to Kate and hopefully to save Kate's life.

Now, 13 years later, Anna is tired of being a pin cushion and is seeking legal action to keep her parents from making her give a kidney - which may save Kate, but puts Anna's life in danger.

When I first heard about this book, I couldn't understand how anybody wouldn't do everything possible to try to save a family member, but after reading this book I felt I really understood how that type of decision could be made, although it would be difficult. Picoult does an amazing job of showing this from everyone's perspective, including the defending lawyer's position.

There were a few cheesy parts in there, and some predictable story lines, but for the most part I found this book to be a well-written and captivating read. And it made me cry, a lot, so it gets a high rating. Also, I found it difficult to believe that Anna was only 13 in the book. Her thoughts and actions seemed much more mature than that of any 13-year-old I've ever met. It was the one thing that kept stopping me throughout the book, but I just had to accept it and move on.

All in all I really liked this book. It got me to think about a subject I've never given much thought to. It also really made me think about what it must be like to be a parent trying to save a child with leukemia, and it made me wonder at what point they should give up.

Other blog reviews of this book:
Dog Ear Diary


Chason said...

I can't imagine being in Anna's position. You would have to question if your parents really loved you at all if their main motivation for having you was so you'd be a living tissue donor. I think it would be next to impossible to get over that, especially if they had not planned on having a second child after having Kate.
For me, this brings to mind the question of whether or not to be an organ donor. I recently had to renew my driver's license; go down to the DMV, take a new picture, and give them a thumbprint. When I originally got my driver's way back in 1995 I had volunteered to be an organ donor, but back then they just had these little circular stickers you could stick to your license and, inevitably, the sticker would fall off. But now they've gotten smart about it and the license itself comes with the little pink "donor" dot embedded in the plastic (over whatever material it is made of) of the license. It seems like a really big question for any person to answer on some DMV driver's license renewal form: "Would you like to be an organ donor?" And you check the little box. It just worries me that one day I might get into an accident and be clinging to life and when the doctor's see that I've volunteered as a tissue donor they work a little less hard to save my life because obviously there are many people out there who could benefit from my donated organs. The doctor might think to himself, "Well, I could save this guy, but if he dies then 15-20 people might get his donated organs." What a dilemma to be in.
For the record, I'm pretty sure that the vast majority of physicians wouldn't just let a person die in order to harvest their organs, but there are probably a handful of unethical doctors who might.
Nice review. Definitely an interesting topic.

Becca said...

Yeah, there were some parts in the book where you really hate the mom because she doesn't seem to care at all about Anna. When she gives birth to her she thinks "just get it out of me." How horrible is that? She thinks it because they need the umbilical cord to give to Kate, but still it's a horrible thought to have when giving birth.

As for the organ donor thing, I totally agree. I've never put it on there exactly for that reason. I know it's terrible, but I just feel like people would take advantage of it. I'd rather tell my family that I want to donate my organs and let them tell the doctors if it comes down to that. You know?

Anyway, thanks so much for continuing to read my reviews.

How's Suite Francaise coming along?

Chason said...

Suite Francaise is coming along. I've got about 100 pages to go. I should be done by the 29th. How is the discussion going to work?

melissa d. said...

I read this a few years back and while I don't remember much about it, I do remember I enjoyed it. But I just heard that Dakota and her lil sis were signed up to play these sisters -- until D backed out when she learned she'd have to shave her head! Hee.

melissa d. said...

FANNING. Dakota FANNING. Dakotes and I are not on a first name basis.

Becca said...

M-Doll: Hahaha, I knew who you were talking about, but that's hilarious. Aw, she could have shaved her head for a couple mill, don't you think?

Chaz: I'm not sure exactly how the discussion will work. I figured I'd write my review and other people could publish their reviews in comments, or just respond to what I had to say. What do you think?

Chason said...

I finished "Suite Francaise" this morning. I think that discussion format will work. I'd like to read your review. I think it will actually be the first book review you write of a book I've actually read. I hope that you aren't including the appendices because I just read the main book and sort of skimmed over the rest. I do plan to read over them more closely, but the first one is just her notes and they seem sort of like random thoughts. It's interesting in the sense that it gives you an insight into how she approached the writing process, but it's not something that I would read on the bus because I'd totally fall asleep.

Becca said...

Chason: yay! I'm so glad you finished it! I can't wait :-)

Jeane said...

I tried to send you an email to let you know I've also reviewed this book, but it didn't work. my email wouldn't go through