**spoiler alert** This is a heartbreaking read. The story focuses around Anna, the youngest child in a family of five, who was conceived to be the per...more**spoiler alert** This is a heartbreaking read. The story focuses around Anna, the youngest child in a family of five, who was conceived to be the perfect donor for her elder sister, Kate, who was diagnosed with aggressive cancer as an infant. At age thirteen, Anna finally has enough and takes her parents to court in order to gain medical emancipation; the ability to make her own medical decisions. But Kate needs her kidney to have a chance at life and so Anna's own mother, once a lawyer, fights her in court in order to save her older daughter.
The story is told from the point of view of Anna, her father (Brian), her mother (Sara), her brother (Jesse), her lawyer (Campbell Alexander), and her court-appointment guardian (Julia). Time jumps throughout the book so that we experience part of Kate's childhood, including her diagnosis, remissions, and subsequent relapses. Each character has a distinct way of thinking that really adds to the emotional complexity of the book.
I guessed the ending before it happened, though some things were unexpected. For one, I did not expect that Kate had been the one to encourage Anna to go to court; that she had asked to die. And, although I had guessed that perhaps Anna would be the daughter to die before the book ended, I was shocked at the manner of her death and how it aided in Kate's recovery.
This book is haunting. So much of it feels hollow as if Kate's impending death has eaten away at her family until they've lost the emotional richness that we all take for granted. The main lesson is that life if fragile and unexpected; that you could be focusing on one thing so intensely that you end up blindsided by circumstance. I often had to put this down for a day or so because the subject matter is just so depressing. I am glad I persevered, however, as ultimately this is an incredibly moving and devastating story. Expect to cry buckets at the end. I sure did.(less)