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My Sister's Keeper

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New York Times best-selling author Jodi Picoult is widely acclaimed for her keen insights into the hearts and minds of real people. Now she tells the emotionally riveting story of a family torn apart by conflicting needs and a passionate love that triumphs over human weakness.

Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age 13 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.

My Sister's Keeper examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child's life, even if that means infringing upon the rights of another? Is it worth trying to discover who you really are if that quest makes you like yourself less? Should you follow your own heart or let others lead you? Once again, in My Sister's Keeper, Jodi Picoult tackles a controversial real-life subject with grace, wisdom, and sensitivity.

423 pages, Paperback

First published April 6, 2004

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About the author

Jodi Picoult

102 books70.7k followers
Jodi Picoult is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-eight novels, including Wish You Were Here, Small Great Things, Leaving Time, and My Sister’s Keeper, and, with daughter Samantha van Leer, two young adult novels, Between the Lines and Off the Page. Picoult lives in New Hampshire.

MAD HONEY, her new novel co-authored with Jennifer Finney Boylan, is available in hardcover, ebook, and audio on October 4, 2022.

Website: http://www.jodipicoult.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jodipicoult

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jodipicoult

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 35,694 reviews
Profile Image for Lynn.
47 reviews44 followers
February 12, 2009
**If you're planning on reading this book, don't read my review. I give away the horribly disappointing ending. On second thought, don't read this book, read my review.**

I know several people who have read this book, so I decided to give it a go. I was immediately intrigued by the subject of the book. The Fitzgerald family has one daughter, Kate, dying of kidney failure. The kidney failure is a result of her weary body's 14 year battle with a rare form of leukemia. Their other daughter, Anna, is a perfect donor match to Kate. The fact that Anna is a perfect match is no surprise considering Anna was conceived with Kate in mind. Anna was no accident; doctors specifically chose the embryo that would be a perfect genetic match for Kate's needs.

Now thirteen years later, and several procedures later, Anna is refusing to donate a kidney. She seeks the legal help of Campbell Alexander, and together they petition the court for Anna's medical emancipation from her parents. Anna's argument is compelling. Simply, she argues "it never stops." When Anna was born they gave her cord blood to Kate. Later Anna gave lymphocytes, then bone marrow, then granulocytes, then peripheral blood stem cells. And now she is expected to give a kidney. Anna feels like she only exists to perpetuate Kate's existence. At this point doctors don't even believe Kate would survive a kidney transplant, but her parents still want the procedure done.

This is a fascinating plot, since there are no clear cut right/wrong answers. How do you weight the lives of these two young girls? The author came up with a brilliant grey pool of possibilities.

But the book sank.

While the writing is exceptional in small burst, it's most often barely digestible and often painful. The story is told from each characters' point of view, and this leads to a lot of flashbacks and unnecessary digressions. The flashbacks of the mother, Sara, are necessary as she tells the history of Kate's illness. But were also given a side plot between Campbell and Julia, Anna's guardian ad litem. And I promise that the author's writing takes a sudden dive for the 'painful' end of the spectrum when Julia is speaking. I was bored with the lame history of the high school romance between Campbell and Julia. They had a sudden breakup, and now 15 years later they still secretly pine for one another - blah. Let me first say that if my high school sweetheart broke my heart and I still haven't gotten over it FIFTEEN YEARS LATER, slap the shit out me!

The plot is stupid: Julia was the poor girl that ended up in a rich school her oh-so-loving parents desperately got her into. She's the rebel with pink hair and no friends. Campbell is drawn to her because apparently no other girl in his rich kid school thought to dye their hair. Apparently rich kids don't do such crazy things.

What was even worse was the dialogue between Julia and Campbell or Julia and her sister. A lot of horrible one-liners; just awful dialogue in general. I blame Picoult's editor. Why wasn't she told to cut all this crap out?

The story when told through Jesse, the 18-year-old delinquent brother of Anna and Kate, is also generally ridiculous. We're given more cheesy dialogue and digressions that add very little to the main plot.
Picoult could've easily cut out about 200 pages and had a much better story.

Although the stories of Jesse, Campbell, and Julia are irritating, nothing is more infuriating than how the author ties up the story in the end. She creates this wonderful dilemma but (and here's where I get nasty) doesn't have the talent to pull it off. Instead of wading around in the murkiness of deciding between the possibility of saving one life (if only for a short while) and respecting the life and decisions of another, Picoult takes the easy way out. When on the stand, Anna now explains that she not only started the petition for personal or selfish reasons, but because Kate secretly asked her too. While this might be a very probable scenario in real life - a chronically ill patient simply wanting it to all end - I was interested in seeing where Picoult could take us without this shortcut. The starting topic no longer becomes such a controversy when the recipient doesn't want what the donor is offering. That's right, we learn that Anna was willing to donate her kidney until Kate told her not to. (Can you see the satin bow coming out, about to be neatly tied around all of this?)

In the end, Anna is granted medical emancipation from her parents. Even still, Anna considers giving her kidney to Kate. On one hand she doesn't want to lose her sister, but another part of her realizes her life may be better once Kate is dead. But we never learn what Anna decides in the end, because the author commits the ultimate cop out. She kills Anna off. Anna gets into a horrible car accident where she's conveniently made brain dead, but still physically alive so her organs can be harvested. That's right! Kate gets her kidney after all and lives! This ending was complete bullshit. The ethical and moral questions that set this book up were abandoned in the end. In the end, no tough decisions needed to be made.

Eight years later, Kate is alive and well. Her parents, although deeply effected by Anna's death, have managed to pull themselves back together. We're told that Brian, the father, had a drinking problem for a while after Anna's death, but not to worry - he clawed his way back to the family. Good for him. And Jesse the badass teenager who made moonshine in his room, dropped LSD, and who, oh by the way, was an ARSONIST, is now a decorated police officer. How nice; glad that whole setting elementary schools on fire stage passed for him.

I felt that throughout the book the author was making a case for Anna and how invisible she felt in her own family. Anna desperately wanted to be in charge of her own life. Anna wanted to be seen as an individual, not Kate's lifeline. Instead of Kate always being giving a chance, Anna wanted a chance to become her own person. In the end, her creator, her author, didn't even care enough to find out what that might mean.
Profile Image for Lisa.
60 reviews17 followers
June 8, 2007
As I said before: I'm still reading this book but I'm not sure why. My mom lent me the book and she loved it, everyone tells me they loved it and I'm sort of hating it while I read. I just want to finish it and move on. Maybe I'll change my tune when it's over.

Well... I hate it less, but I'm still not in love with it. I think I know the problem, though. It's Jodi Picoult. My mom loves her, my sister loves her, everyone I know loves her and I can't stand her. She just writes in this odd way that gets on my nerves. What drove me nuts reading this one was the way that every chapter, almost every paragraph either ended with some sort of cliché or some profound statement that was supposed to be so meaningful.

She made not so subtle comparisons to the stars and the lonely people on earth, to a fire and a disease, a firefighter and a mother who wants to save her dying daughter. Gag. I couldn't take it. But I know it's just me and that other people are going to love this story.

I thought I knew how it was going to end but when it ended differently that I expected, my thought was "Oh yeah, I should have figured that one out. Much sappier than my prediction."

It's terrible, my Picoult-aversion. I have the same feelings toward Alice Hoffman and Anita Shreve. I once found an Anita Shreve book in the basement of the house I moved into, crammed under the oil tank. Never one to pass up a book, I gave it a read, got two chapters in and wanted to throw it back under the oil tank myself. I think these authors try too hard and that's what irritates me.

But don't let me stop you. Go ahead, swallow your sentimental nausea, put on your cliché repellant and I'm sure you'll enjoy the story of a family in turmoil, told in the fashion I usually enjoy where each chapter is from a different character's perspective. Just don't say I didn't warn you.
Profile Image for Lobeck.
118 reviews19 followers
June 30, 2007
this book is a shameless and unskillful manipulation of human emotions. i felt dirty when i was done with it. the story is on par with cheap natural disaster movies like deep impact that are formulated to tug at your heartstrings in very predictable ways. the author painfully over uses the dramatic blackout technique where she writes a line that's trying too hard to be clever or profound and then fades to black - aka, leaves extra space before the next paragraph or ends a chapter - sometimes with no time break between one sentence and the next. such a cheap trick - does this impress anyone any more?

the author writes the entire novel as a cliff hanger - another piece of shameless manipulation that i despise - with the whole novel spanning no more than a few days. she builds up plot points that don't deliver; when she finally reveals characters' motivations, they end up being pretty lame justifications for their actions.

the sideline love story was completely predictable - old sweathearts with a bad breakup who are suddenly thrown into a situation together. woman resists, man persists, woman gives in to romantic evenings and sex, illustrating once again that women don't really know what they want and no doesn't really mean no and if you push hard enough you can have your way with any woman.

needless to say, i don't recommend this book.
Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan .
944 reviews1,886 followers
October 1, 2022

This is one of those books that triggered many discussions regarding the ethical and moral concerns Jodi Picoult tried to discuss ever since it was published in 2005. The author is dealing with one of the most complicated topics related to medical ethics through this novel.

She tells the story of Anna and her sister Kate. Anna is now thirteen years old and has undergone countless surgeries and other medical procedures for her older sister Kate, who has leukemia. Some readers might feel numb when you hear that Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for her elder sister. When one person's whole existence depends and is defined by another person, many problems start creeping up, which makes Anna take a serious decision that triggers a roller coaster ride for the whole family.

What I learned from this book
1) Why there is no word in English for parents who lose a child?
One of the immense pain a human being will have to endure is losing their child. It is abstruse for me that there is still no word in English for the parents who lost their children. I thought about this same topic when I was in medical school. I even did a little research on the same issue. I was surprised to find out that there is also no similar term in many other languages. So I was happy to see Jodi Picoult appositely discuss this issue in this novel. Few years after this book was published, Professor Karla Holloway from Duke University coined the term vilomah (which has Sanskrit origin, which means against a natural order) for the parents who lost their child. But it is still not used globally and not accepted and included in many dictionaries. (There were even multiple petitions for including vilomah in the dictionaries)
“In the English language there are orphans and widows, but there is no word for the parents who lose a child.”


2) The importance of nurses in an oncology ward.
The author discusses the assiduous nature of nurses in this novel. I have been seeing the extraordinary work done by nurses ever since my birth. As both my parents are also doctors and me being their only child, all my vacations were either in hospitals along with nurses or in their houses along with their children when I was young. After becoming a doctor, my respect towards them only increases with every day working with them. Therefore, I can easily connect with what the authors tell here about nurses in this novel.
"An oncology ward is a battlefield, and there are definite hierarchies of command. The patients, they're the ones doing the tour of duty. The doctors breeze in and out like conquering heroes, but they need to read your child's chart to remember where they've left off from the previous visit. It is the nurses who are the seasoned sergeants -- the ones who are there when your baby is shaking with such a high fever she needs to be bathed in ice, the ones who can teach you how to flush a central venous catheter, or suggest which patient floor might still have Popsicles left to be stolen, or tell you which dry cleaners know how to remove the stains of blood and chemotherapies from clothing. The nurses know the name of your daughter's stuffed walrus and show her how to make tissue paper flowers to twine around her IV stand. The doctors may be mapping out the war games, but it is the nurses who make the conflict bearable."


3) The invisible bond between the siblings and mother.
The bond between Anna and Kate is the best part of this novel. You will laugh with them, becomes angry with them, and even cries with them. Even though there are so many negatives in this book, the way the author mentions the bond between them makes this novel something special. You will also love the bond between Kate and her mother. I don't know whether I can say the same for love between Anna and her mother.
"If you have a sister and she dies, do you stop saying you have one? Or are you always a sister, even when the other half of the equation is gone?"


"I have a sister, so I know-that relationship, it's all about fairness: you want your sibling to have exactly what you have the same amount of toys, the same number of meatballs on your spaghetti, the same share of love. But being a mother is completely different. You want your child to have more than you ever did. You want to build a fire underneath her and watch her soar. It's bigger than words."



My favourite three lines from this book
“You're not a bad person because you want to be yourself.”


“Seeing her sitting there unresponsive makes me realize that silence has a sound.”


“A jewel's just a rock put under enourmous heat and pressure. Extraordinary things are always hiding in places people never think to look.”


What could have been better?
1) Too many cooks spoil the broth
The best and worst part of this novel is its multiple POVs. When one POV looks at the situation from a maternal perspective, the other will be viewing it from an ethical perspective. The author deliberately tried to view this novel from many perspectives to give us a unique experience. But the problem creeps up when we feel anachronistic when too many unnecessary POVs come in between, leaving the readers confused and encumbers the smooth flow of the narration. We will sometimes see contrasting perspectives from a single POV, which makes us love and hate that character at the same time. So many POVs and so many mannerisms for a single POV will utterly confuse the reader.
"I learn from my own daughter that you don't have to be awake to cry."


"I ...understand how a parent might hit a child- it's because you can look into their eyes and see a reflection of yourself that you wish you hadn't."


2) Schizoid and avoidant personality disorders.
As a reader, I felt disconsolate when I read the lines given below, which shows the acerbic truth that the author had no clue regarding the difference between schizoid and avoidant personality disorders. In schizoid personality disorder, people will have a general disinterest in interacting with others. They are not interacting because they don't want to do it. In avoidant personality disorder, people love to have relationships but avoid them due to fear of rejection.
"Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it's not because they enjoy solitude. It's because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them."


3) Conflict between ethics and moral values, love, and law.
As a doctor, I can never agree with what Anna's mother was saying. Even though we can try to justify her morally, it is one of the most absurd conditions when we look at it from an ethical perspective. I can give only 0/5 stars for her character. While I will give 5/5 stars for Anna's and Kate's characters.
“The answer is that there is no good answer. So as parents, as doctors, as judges, and as a society, we fumble through and make decisions that allow us to sleep at night--because morals are more important than ethics, and love is more important than law."


Rating
3/5 If I look at this novel from an ethical point of view, I can only give zero stars for this book. When I look at it from the perspective of the sibling relationship, I will give it five out of five stars. So overall I will give it three stars. If you love to read books involving family drama, this will be a good choice.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,478 reviews29.7k followers
May 22, 2020
oh dear. where do i even begin with this one?

the only thing i liked about this was the concept. the quality of one daughters life vs the sanctity of her sisters is phenomenally creative and very forward thinking for the time this was written. i loved the ethically, morally, medically, and psychologically ambiguous questions/answers this story prompts. it just really makes you think.

that being said, i hated everything else.

there are wayyyy too many POVs, several of which are unnecessary, and i really dont like any of the characters. but i absolutely loathe the mother. omg. im not a violent person but i seriously was concerned by how often i wanted to strangle her to death.

i also dont like the way the narration was told. there are too many switches between present day and past memories with no transitions. its soooo annoying and really disrupts the flow of the story.

and the ending is the biggest disappointment of them all. i feel like JP took the coward/easy way out because she wasnt brave enough to see either side of the argument through. i would have respected her as an author for committing to and seeing a decision through, regardless of the sad consequences that would have followed. but she didnt and it ruined the story for me.

this story had a lot of potential that was quickly flushed down the toilet.

2 stars
Profile Image for Sammy.
207 reviews860 followers
June 13, 2007
This book was stunning. In writing, in style, in plot, in character! It truly is one of those books that you really can't stop reading. Especially for me, because in a way it took me back to my Lurlene McDaniel days. Did anyone ever read her? She was always writing books about different teenagers and young children with terminal illnesses. I was addicted to those books. So it was no surprise when the young reader in me sort of jumped up when I saw a friend of mine reading this book and she described it to me.

Boy was it a book well chosen. Picoult writes from the views of a few different key characters, allowing the reader to get an extremely well-rounded look at the story. At first the jumping from character to character is a little jarring and you have to keep reminding yourself that it's a new character, but eventually you get into the vibe of the book and wouldn't have it written any other way. The one thing Picoult does perfectly is make you torn. You really don't know who to support in a case like this. At times you find yourself leaning towards Anna, and other times wanting desperately to shout your support for Sara, the poor mother in this situation.

With the readers information of other characters points of views and knowledge, the whole case is a lot more difficult to have a desired verdict towards. In the end a decision is made, a decision that, while reading the book, I was constantly wondering what Picoult was going to do, because either way one fully supported side was going to lose. But the way she really ends the book puts results to rest in a solid, yet emotionally unsatisfying ending. The ending it by no means bad, quite the contrary it was beautiful and settling, but at the same time you don't know whether to be relieved that there was an extremely closed ending without debate, or to cry. I won't tell you why, and I may have said too much already. But this book is just incredible and I highly advise you try to read it as soon as possible.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,568 reviews55.5k followers
March 2, 2022
My Sister's Keeper, Jodi Picoult

My Sister's Keeper is a 2004 novel written by Jodi Picoult. It tells the story of thirteen-year-old Anna Fitzgerald, who sues her parents for medical emancipation when she discovers she was supposed to donate a kidney to her elder sister Kate, who is gradually dying from acute leukemia.

The story takes place in the fictional town of Upper Darby, Rhode Island in 2004. Anna Fitzgerald's older sister, Kate, suffers from acute leukemia, a blood and bone marrow cancer. Anna was born as a savior sister specifically so she could save Kate's life. At first it is successful, but the cancer continues to relapse throughout Kate's life. Anna is usually willing to donate whatever Kate needs, but when she turns 13, she is told that she will have to donate one of her kidneys due to Kate's kidney failure.

The surgery required for both Kate and Anna would be major; it is not guaranteed to work, as the stress of the operation may kill Kate anyway, and the loss of a kidney could have a serious impact on Anna's life. Anna petitions for medical emancipation with the help of lawyer Campbell Alexander, so she will be able to make her own decisions regarding her medical treatment and the donation of her kidney. ...

My Sister's Keeper, Jodi Picoult, Kent: Hodder, 2004, x,422p

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «نگهبان خواهرم»؛ «نجات‌ دهنده‌ ی خواهرم»؛ نویسنده: جودی پیکولت؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز هفتم ماه ژانویه سال2019میلادی

عنوان: نگهبان خواهرم؛ نویسنده: جودی پیکولت؛ مترجم: پگاه ملکیان؛ تهران انتشارات میلکان‏‫، سال1396؛ در380ص؛ شابک9786007845974؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحذه آمریکا - سده21م‬

عنوان: نجات‌ دهنده‌ ی خواهرم؛ نویسنده: جودی پیکولت؛ مترجم علی عباس‌آبادی؛ تهران آموت، سال‏‫1397؛ در556ص؛ شابک9786003840843؛‬

آنا دختری یازده ساله است؛ و خواهرش مبتلا به سرطان خون است؛ پدر و مادرش، میخواهند کلیه ی «آنا» را، به «کیت»، پیوند بزنند؛ در این راستا، مشکلاتی به وجود میآید، «آنا» سر باز میزند، و خانواده دچار تنش می‌شوند...؛ با اقتباس از این کتاب، فیلمی نیز در سال2009میلادی، به کارگردانی «نیک کاساوتس»؛ و تهیه‌ کنندگی «استفن فورتز»؛ «اسکات گلدمن»؛ «مارک جانسون»؛ «چاک پاچکو»؛ «مندل تروپر»؛ و بازیگران «کامرون دیاز»؛ «ابیگیل برسلین»؛ «الک بالدوین»؛ «جیسون پاتریک»؛ «سوفیا واسیلویا»؛ «دیوید تورنتن»؛ «امیلی داشانل»؛ «الیزایت دیلی»؛ «لین شی»؛ «جان ماری کوساک»؛ و «هدر والکو��یست» ساخته شده است

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 29/01/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ 10/12/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Penny.
215 reviews1,354 followers
June 3, 2010
Anyone who has a kid has probably, at one point or another, battled with them at bedtime. That's what I do, every night. There is much yelling, crying, begging and pleading. It's horrible.

Kid #3 is out like a light, so she's not part of the problem. Kid #2 puts up a good fight, whining and tantrum throwing, but eventually she succumbs to her sleepiness. Kid #1, however... well, she's another story altogether.

At night, she's afraid of everything and feels that if she sleeps something will get her. But she's not invincible, she has to sleep sometime. So after being assured that she's safe, she'll lay down and relax--this can only happen in the master bedroom, because in her mind the master bedroom is safe from everything.

Once she's been lulled into blissful unconsciousness either me or my husband will move her to her room. Typically this goes off without a hitch. But every once in a great while she wakes up and totally freaks out, because she realizes she was tricked. By her own parents, no less. She feels betrayed. She doesn't believe us when we swear that we won't move her again (because we will and she knows it). And so, because of her her general mistrust, her fear of everything, not to mention all the sobbing, she is awake for another couple of hours, at least. The whole situation is very dramatic and it totally sucks.

How does this relate to My Sister's Keeper? It doesn't--not exactly but I do have a point. Let me explain. I spent years avoiding Jody Picoult's books like the plague. They frightened me. I don't know why. Perhaps it's the fact that every woman over thirty can't stop raving about Jody Picoult books, which means they're probably not my 'cuppa tea'. It may even have something to do with the fact that the woman has the ability to crank these insanely thick books out like she's some sort of writing machine from hell. I don't know, it just doesn't seem natural. Besides, no author is capable of writing so fast. At least, no good author can do such a thing, amirite?

But finally, after being assured that Jody is actually quite talented, that her books are intriguing and worthwhile, I relented and picked up Nineteen Minutes. And you know what? It wasn't horrible. Actually, I kind of liked it. Alright, I admit it--I liked it a lot. It wasn't the best book ever, but it was the sort of book that makes you think, stays with you after you're finished reading it. *shrugs* I happen to like that sort of thing.

So I immediately picked up My Sister's Keeper. And I liked it too. In fact, I was only half way through the book when I was positive I'd be giving it four stars. Sure the sub-plot about the lawyer and the child advocate falling in love was incredibly stupid, but could I blame Jody for throwing it in? No. I'm sure her target audience expects that sort of thing to be in every book they ever read. So I was willing to forgive it. I even forgave all the cheesy cliches.

Because sometimes I'm able to ignore stupid subplots, ridiculous cliches, irritating characters (and by irritating I mean 'so monstrous they deserve to die a horribly drawn-out and painful death'. Yes, I'm talking about the mother in this book), formulaic--that's a word, right?--writing and even the lack of good editing when a story has peaked my interest. It happened when I was reading Twilight and it happened while I was reading this book.

Besides, I'd already come to the conclusion that I'd like this book because I liked Nineteen Minutes. I even had visions of myself adding Jodi Picoult to my list of favorite authors, adding the whole of Jodi Picoult's published works to my TBR list, happily reading said books on the beach over summer break--it was going to be so awesome!

But then, when I was nearly finished with this book, Jodi Picoult went and ruined everything. EVERYTHING! I don't even have the desire to finish this book. I feel manipulated, betrayed, lied to, cheated, and totally violated! I also feel incredibly stupid for thinking that Jodi Picoult was a good writer. Because she's not. She totally sucks and I hate her.

So. Even though I've wasted hours of my life reading, and thinking about, Jodi Picoult novels, it hasn't been all bad. I've learned two things from this whole experience. First, I should trust my initial instincts when it comes to books. Second, I'm an a-hole for lying to my kid. It's no wonder she doesn't trust me, and she'll probably need years of therapy because of it. I wouldn't blame her if she threw me in a really bad nursing home someday.

I gave this book two stars because it isn't horrible until the end. That's when Picoult whips out the most manipulative, unnecessary twist, and thus ruins the whole experience.

Now let us never speak of this again.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,855 reviews1,885 followers
February 5, 2018
Rating: fifteen one-thousandths of a single star (out of five; p44)

2018 UPDATE Anyone who thinks that this idea of growing a new kid for replacement parts is a good idea should read Altered Carbon or watch the glossy, gritty Netflix show.

Many are the yodels of praise for this horrifying book. The details of the main character's use as a farm animal for a more-favored older sibling are too grisly to recount without vomiting on my keyboard.

People die. Even when we don't want them to, and even when it hurts for them to, and even when we've given them life. It's happened to me. I know it hurts, but the ghastly vile disgusting nauseating practice of having a child *specifically* to save another child...!

Anyone who does that should be jailed.

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Profile Image for Nola Tillman.
634 reviews44 followers
April 10, 2008
I hate novels where parenting is questioned, simply because I too often find myself thinking, “Well I would never do THAT.” I then have to do the whole knock-on-wood routine and hope that I didn’t just invite divine retribution for being too judgmental. So it was with Jodi Picoult’s novel My Sister’s Keeper. After reading the summary of the novel, I knew that I would never make the choices that the parents shown did. After reading the novel, I found myself questioning what I might really do if my child was facing death.

In case you missed the summary, My Sister’s Keeper is the story of Anna, a thirteen year old girl genetically conceived to be a match for her leukemia-positive sister. Within minutes of her birth, she was a donor for Kate, sharing her cord blood to save her sister’s life. By the time she is thirteen, when the novel takes place, she has been in the hospital almost as much as Kate, donating things such as blood and bone marrow. After being asked to donate a kidney, she seeks legal emancipation from her parents. And so the story begins.

One of the things that bugged me was the chapter-by-chapter switch of the point of view. It was very well handled and, once I got past the irritation stage, I had to admit that it helped the story along. And so we skip through the minds of Anna, her lawyer, her court-appointed guardian ad litem, her brother, her father, and her mother – in short, everyone close to Anna except her sister. Each of these perspectives is given in the present, with the notable exception of her mother. Instead, we trace the mother’s path of learning that her daughter has leukemia, and what decisions led her (and Anna) to the current moment. This, too, was initially annoying, but proved well-chosen; I’m not sure the same impact would have been made if we simply had the mom looking back. It would have been far easier to judge her at that point than it was to see her experiencing her pain.

In fact, it was from Sara’s perspective that I learned the most, and that I questioned myself. If my young daughter, the light of my life, was threatened with death, how far would I go to save her? I don’t think that I honestly would have even thought up the idea of conceiving a child specifically for that purpose, but what do you do once the idea has been planted? Furthermore, it is clear that Sara loves and cherishes Anna, even as she worries incessantly over Katie. True, she neglects her, but she also neglects her son, who had been born prior to the diagnosis, turning most of her attention to her sick child. And though this also made me pass judgement, it also made me wonder – would I be able to balance my attention on all my children if one were struggling through a life-long illness? How easy would it be to make small decisions that hurt the others to save the one?

In short, I hated this well-written, well-developed, well-plotted book because it made me think. The moral and religious side of me rejects the notion of a test-tube baby conceived for a specific purpose, but the mother in me wonders. If my child were starving, how easy would it be to remain true to my moral perspectives and not steal (assuming, of course, the government weren’t around to save me)? If someone threatened my child, how far would I go to protect them? In short, when it comes down to crunch time, how true would I stay?

To fall asleep, I have to assure myself that I would, of course, be perfect in all things. And then knock soundly on the nearest wood, and pray I never have to find out.
Profile Image for Rita.
520 reviews15 followers
November 15, 2008
Spoiler Alert. This review contains spoilers.

I hated this book so much. I only kept reading it because I had to find out why Campbell, the lawyer, had a service dog, since he kept that such a secret.

I hated the clichés (Julia chose just that moment to crash through the door… Anna chose that precise moment to speak up… Rita chose this moment to gag on bad writing…).

I hated the overwrought melodrama. Everything was just so saturated with heavy-handed tear-jerking prose that the book was soggy and just about dripping. About halfway through the book, I started skimming it, looking for dialogue relevant to the plot. Brian’s metaphors about fire and Sara’s reminiscing about the kids’ childhoods and Campbell’s backflashes about Julia and Julia being pathetic in every possible way and Anna’s cluelessness just got so very dull. If I was ever to find out why Campbell had that dog, then I needed to get through the material faster. Putting the book down to groan out loud every few paragraphs was taking too long.

The characters were two-dimensional and irritating. They really were just like paper dolls, given name tags, dressed up in stereotypes and given lines to say (and melodramatic thoughts to spill out). It was like, This is the mom and she’s a big martyr who puts her children first all the time… she’s a GOOD mother, she just got blinded by trying to be too good, so she seems kind of bad now. But we’ll be on her side in the end because of her deep insight. Waggle mom paper doll and have her blah, blah, blah and then Over here is the Big Bad Lawyer doll… ooooh, he’s a ruthless go-getter with a hazy past, but he’ll have some secrets to pull out at the end so we’ll realize he’s a decent, stand up guy after all. Waggle lawyer paper doll and have him blah blah blah, and so on.

The plot was all right through all of that until the big Law and Order courtroom twist at the end. That was just a convenient trick to get out of actually trying to find a solution for such a dilemma. She worked it up to such a point that there was no way out that would sit well with an audience, there was no good way to wrap it up, so she pulled a rabbit out of a hat. Then she went a step further and did something that I guess some might find bold, but it just made me shout a stream of obscenities and then made me thankful that I had just skimmed the second half of the book and didn’t really invest in it at all. Otherwise, I would have been furious with such an ending.

This is the second Jodi Picoult book I’ve tried to read. I didn’t like the other one either (Vanishing Acts), so I guess I won’t be reading anything else by this author.

July 3, 2020
Emancipation
My Sister's Keeper is a hugely compelling novel that explores an agonising moral dilemma of doing everything possible for your child - but can you choose between your children. It is heart-breaking, sensitive, compassionate and superbly written to bring a serious illness and portray it through a novel. The true exploration of the story is the sanctity of life, the precious, fragile, nature of it, the ownership we each have over our bodies, and the respect we must pay to others.

Sara and Brian have a child Kate with Leukaemia and decide to have another daughter, Anna, to groom for the eventually of providing a kidney transplant and stem cells for Kate. The plans go completely awry when Anna decides that she has her own life and will make her own decisions about her body, and decides to take legal steps towards medical emancipation from her parents. As this ethical battle is being played out between legal teams and then in court, Kate’s Leukaemia treatment continues and she is experiencing all the issues and obstacles a Leukaemia patient will suffer. Not only the physical suffering but the emotional and spiritual torment. It is very difficult to develop relationships with other patients and then deal with the deaths that occur. The tight bond that disappears in a moment! Utterly heart-breaking as it often breaks your hope that this illness is survivable.

My Sister's Keeper is an incredibly sad story and having watched a family member die of Leukaemia, it replayed all the same tragic decisions and experiences. I felt Jodi Picoult captured the emotions and mental anguish so wonderfully. It was really authentic! If you suffered agonising moments throughout the book, the final twist will leave you floored.

I would highly recommend this book and it will leave its impact, especially if it’s directly relatable.
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,006 reviews3,515 followers
December 27, 2020
Emotional and profoundly thought-provoking.

If your child were deathly ill, what would you do to save them? Move heaven and earth...right? Would that include sacrificing your other child? Stops you in your tracks, doesn’t it.

Kate was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. Conventional treatment wasn’t working. Her only hope was a bone marrow transplant. But no one in the family was a close match. And there was no time to sit on the register hoping beyond hope to find a donor.

Kate’s parents make the call of a lifetime…they decide to have another child through IVF to ensure as close to a perfect match for Kate.

Anna is ushered into this world with an abundance of love but also with the hope she will save Kate’s life. So many gut-wrenching decision follow. Morals and values to be considered. When is it enough? When will it stop? What will the repercussions be when all is said and done?

This book will have you taking a hard look at yourself in the mirror. How far can you go? Is causing harm to one daughter worth easing the pain of your other?

Jodi Picoult did an amazing job of portraying a family in the most unthinkable crisis.

A buddy read with Susanne that kept us discussing as much as reading.
Highly recommend!

Posted to:https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend...

Thank you Susanne for gifting me a copy of this incredible book.
Profile Image for Mischenko.
1,012 reviews97 followers
August 31, 2017
This book is featured on this week's Throwback Thursday @ https://readrantrockandroll.com/2017/...

Leave it to Jodi Picoult to captivate me from cover to cover. I read this in 2005 and remember that I couldn't put this down until the final shocking end.

Sara's daughter Kate is sick. She has leukemia and Sara will do whatever it takes to keep her alive. When Anna is born, she quickly becomes her sister Kate's savior, but as time goes on, Anna wants a life of her own.

"If you have a sister and she dies, do you stop saying you have one? Or are you always a sister, even when the other half of the equation is gone?...I didn't come to see her because it would make me feel better. I came because without her, it's hard to remember who I am." 

A life is at stake and family relationships spin out of control when Anna files a lawsuit against her parents to be removed from the situation. Who is it that's right when not one of them is sure of their own decisions on this controversial matter? 

I couldn't put the book down. The book is written with multiple character viewpoints and the story unfolds quickly. Picoult has the capability of twisting a story so far that you can never figure out what's ahead or how it'll end.  I love the way she writes and she's one of my favorite authors. This is just one of my favorite books by her. 

My rating for this book is 5*****
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,067 reviews38.1k followers
July 10, 2022
I chose to reread this all time most popular and one of the most thought provoking Jodi Picoult novel! I think most of the readers already devoured it but know about it! Some of you may have watched the movie adaptation!
This is truly heart wrenching story, making you think from different perspectives!
It’s a story of family suffering from big tragedies:

Little Anna at the age of thirteen is sick of being hospitals for so many operations including lots of transfusions, shots, surgeries to help her older sister Kate who struggles from leukemia. She is sick of not deciding what’s going to happen to her own body. She’s conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate! She loves her sister! She wants her live a healthy, long life! But enough is enough! She doesn’t want to be her parents’ Guinea pig for another tests, surgeries she doesn’t give her consent!

Kate is the older sister who wants to stop fighting. She already spent her all life in hospital. Her parents do everything they can to give her extra years to live in expanse of killing their other daughter. But Kate doesn’t want to live miserably anymore as her family tears apart.

Sara; loves her daughters but she keeps forgetting she also has a son. Her only focus is making Kate alive in expanse of crossing the boundaries and she expects every one in the family obey her decisions. ( Cameron Diaz was the worst choice to play that character! )

Jesse is the son living like wallflower in his own house. Nobody pains attention to him. He doesn’t want to be shadow of the family. He unfortunately finds other destructive way to reflect his boiled up feelings: anger, hatred, resentment!

And Brian loves his wife and his family. But at the end he has to stand with Kate and the choices she’ll make.

Anna sues her family to be the decision maker about her own body! She doesn’t want her body get cut at the operation table without her consent. And the famous lawyer Campbell who has his own notorious tactics at court, takes her case. Campbell is the star player. His unresolved love story was a great part to take a big breath from big family drama!

Overall: character driven, strong, moving, sad, one of the best written books shaking you to the core! Who’s the right side? Whose side you’re support? These are the questions you cannot properly answer after reading this book!
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,849 reviews34.9k followers
June 15, 2015
I'm guessing everyone has read this book - but maybe not??? When I saw another GR's post she just read it... and it was one of the most
disturbing books she ever read.., I can relate.

WAY before this movie came out...(with its different ending).....
I couldn't move at one point while reading.

I was on my way to the gym that early morning...but I was just a wreck----crying just too hard at the house alone...( not knowing anyone who had read this book at the time)..,
I didn't get off the 'floor' .... I was in shock.

**For years later... This became one of the most talked about books... with valuable discussions
Profile Image for Vessey.
30 reviews265 followers
August 15, 2017
SPOILERS


"There are some things we do because we convince ourselves it would be better for everyone involved. We tell ourselves that it's the right thing to do, the altruistic thing to do. It's far easier than telling ourselves the truth."


When Sara Fitzgerald discovers that her daughter Kate suffers from leukemia, she decides that she will fight for her child’s life at all cost. Even if that cost is someone else’s life. And this is how Anna is born. The girl who has never belonged to herself, whose light has been smothered before having even touched the surface of her existence.


"But ever since then, we've been too busy looking over our shoulders to run headlong into growing up. You know how most little kids think they're like cartoon characters - if an anvil drops on their heads they can peel themselves off the sidewalk and keep going? Well, I never once believed that. How could I, when we practically set a place for Death at the dinner table?"


I believe it is everyone’s duty and right to help others. I believe it is everyone’s duty and right to help themselves. As a former lawyer, Sara sometimes doubts her decision to give up her career in the name of the family. She struggles with it. She does not have doubts whatsoever where her two daughters are concerned and about the role each of them needs to play in the other’s life. But when doubts go away, do we stop fighting? Sara keeps struggling. Even though she is confident in her choice. Does pain go away along with doubts? Not always. Sometimes it is exactly when we know that we are right that the pain is the strongest. When Anna files a lawsuit against her parents, wanting a medical emancipation, she has no doubt that her daughter is in the wrong, that she wants to escape her responsibility to keep the family together by keeping her sister alive. When we cannot save those we are responsible for, do we have the right to bestow this responsibility on someone else and expect them to act as we would? Even Anna herself cannot give us the response. She is not confident in her choices, because, really, she is faced with an impossible situation.


"If you have a sister and she dies, do you stop saying you have one? Or are you always a sister, even when the other half of the equation is gone?...I didn't come to see her because it would make me feel better. I came because without her, it's hard to remember who I am."


She does not accept being her sister’s guardian and not having a life of her own, she does not accept being independent and thus dooming her sister to death. Sometimes there is no right choice, there is not a happy ending, there are no heroes and villains. Only doubts. There is no right path for Anna. No matter what she chooses, she cannot live with it, she cannot be happy, she cannot forgive herself. Dying physically is only one form of dying. Some of us die constantly, through the choices we –and others - get or don’t get to make. Through the many ifs and maybes and missed or wrongly chosen opportunities we face. Anna’s life is not her own, regardless of what choice she makes. For her it is over before having even begun. I know next to nothing about genetic engineering, but Anna’s story shows me that there is only so much we have the right to ask of another person. There is only so much we have the right to create. I do believe in the noble motives of Sara Fitzgerald, but I do not believe in the validity of her choice. She decides to create a child with the intent to sacrifice it for the other one’s sake. All her love and care for Anna do not make up for that. Anna does not know where her place is, she feels like there isn’t really a place for her. And the universe seems to agree with her. She never gets to make the choice she so dreads of. At the time she finally receives her much craved freedom, she leaves this world. The child that never had to exist stops existing. There is no more struggle, no more dilemmas. It is over.


"There are orphans and widows, but there is no word for the parent who loses a child. It turns out that after all these years I have spent anticipating this, I am completely at loss. Like coloring the sky in with a crayon; there is no language for grief this big. I wait for a change. And then I feel it, as her heart stops beating beneath my palm - that tiny loss of rhythm, that hollow calm, that utter loss."


Through what Kate receives from her body after Anna is gone, a medical miracle happens and she seems to have gotten recovered from her disease. There are no more relapses. Doctors cannot explain it, but Kate believes that it is because Anna’s death makes up for her own. But what life will Kate have from now on? Will she be able to handle the cost at which she has it?


When I start to feel this way I go into the bathroom and I lift up my shirt and touch the white lines of my scar. I remember how, at first, I thought the stitches seemed to spell out her name. I think about her kidney working inside me and her blood running through my veins. I take her with me, wherever I go.


When we offer somebody a gift, especially the gift of life, we do not always realize or want to realize what we offer them along with it. Do I believe that it was better for Anna to die than to have to live dealing with the consequences of how she was brought to this world? No. Do I believe she should have been born at all? The answer again is no. Kate keeps on living, but with feeling that she cheated death, that she lives somebody else’s life, bearing within herself the same feeling of wrongness her sister struggles with while alive. I do not believe that our survival and the one of those we love is worth all cost. I do not believe in Sara’s choice. After all is said and done, she still ends up with a dead child and those she is left with are scarred for life. But I do not blame her for it. I understand her and I feel for her. I think that it is understandable why someone in her situation cannot see things the way I describe them. It is understandable why she cannot fathom the consequences and the price that comes with her choices.


"It is the things you cannot see coming that are strong enough to kill you."


We are all told all the time how important it is to do the right thing. Sometimes the right thing is too much to ask for. Often right and wrong are not even part of the equation. In a battle in which there are no winners, where there is no right and wrong, where all you can count on are your instincts, hoping that they are there for a reason, that they mean something, that in the end they are worth more than any moral that chains you when you are desperately trying to break free and take a step, any step that may turn the wheel, break the glass, chase away the shadow, bring back the pulse in your body, you know better than to hope that you will keep your hands clean. All you have is the hope that when the battle is over, you will have the strength to pick up the bodies and bury them.

Read count: 1
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,155 reviews36.2k followers
December 16, 2020
Review posted on blog: https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend...

Life sure can be ugly, messy, and complicated.

A perfect example of that is depicted in Jodi Picoult’s “My Sister’s Keeper.”

The emotions I felt while reading this heart-wrenching novel were mainly anger, frustration, and a whole lot of sadness.

At thirteen, Anna is the little sister, though from everything she’s gone through you wouldn’t know it. From before conception, her parents had a very specific plan for her. They designed her. Their firstborn daughter, Kate was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) at a very young age. The doctors said that her best chance of survival would be to receive a blood transfusion, bone marrow, and potentially organ donations from a matched sibling. Enter Anna. Since the age of five, at her parent’s insistence, she has had to undergo multiple surgeries to save her sister’s life, with nary a care for her own.

When Anna turns thirteen, however, and kidney donation is the next step, all of that changes. For the first time, Anna decides to take a stand.

For Anna, this is a life choice. For Anna’s mother Sara, it is an abomination, as Anna is effectively writing Kate’s death sentence. Sara is a woman who admittedly, I did not understand. Yes, I know, she’s just a fictional character yet, my blood boiled at her actions while reading this novel. I wanted to shake her or slap her or if I’m being completely honest do a whole lot more to make her realize that she had three children to take care of, not just one. Seeing as I am not a mother perhaps my feelings for her would have been less, say aggressive if I had more insight into motherhood. For those of you who are mothers, perhaps your take on her is altogether different than mine.

The standout character here, for me, is, of course, Anna. Strong, forthright, kind, and brave, so very brave.

I first read this novel when it came out many moons ago, however, I have been re-reading some of my old favorites with my book buddy Kaceey. Though this was a difficult read, which garnered a lot of discussion between the two of us, it was an incredible one. Though this was a re-read for me, I admit to shedding a few tears throughout. Thank you for sharing it with me Kaceey. If you’re looking for another novel to read that has a partially similar premise, check out “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro. Having read almost every Jodi Picoult novel to date, this is one of my favorites. I look forward to sharing the rest with you

Published on Goodreads on 12.16.20.
Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
September 1, 2011
My first book written by Jodi Picoult (born 1966) and I had mixed feelings about it. I don't know if I hate or love it so I just rate this with 2 stars that in Goodreads means, It's okay.

I have a friend in the office who is a solid Jodi Picoult fan. She encouraged me to read this a couple of years back as my intro to Picoult's world. I took the book home, read the first 10 pages, closed it and gave the book back to her the following morning. My reason? I did not like the 13-y/o Anna suing her parents for emancipation. Suing one's parents is very un-Filipino, IMHO and I don't think it will happen in the Philippines because Filipinos are reared to be God-fearing and God commands us to respect our parents so I think that situation is unrealistic. It is something I can't relate with.

However, the Filipinos group here in Goodreads chose this book last month as our bestseller read. I tried reading it within the schedule but again, I got stuck in the first few pages. I still could not make me accept that suing part but I went on reading but when I encountered that backstory about Anna's conception just to be the perfect donor for her older sister Kate, I again back off as it is again another unrealistic point: couples decide to have children because they love each other and children are proof of that love. Children are not created to serve as organ donors unless we are talking here of Kazuo Ishiguro's mileau in his Never Let Me Go.

Thank God for the long weekend I had the time to finish some of my stalled books in my currently-reading folder. This one included. I am glad I finished the book. It's still worth the time.

It is a nicely written book. Multiple narrators and POVs. Beautiful metaphors. Memorable quotes. Nice play of words. Any novel about family is on top of my list. However, the characters and the situations they get themselves into felt too contrived just for the sake of getting the lachrymal glands of the readers working hard and probably working overtime. I admire Picoult's efforts to make her story interesting and educational by throwing lots of details regarding leukemia, APL, fire-fighting, kidney transplant, bone marrow extract, etc. "A" for the efforts but I guess the plot is overwritten to the extent of being too manipulative for my taste. This is the reason why I do not watch TV teleseryes unless when my mom is in town and I would like to bond with her by us watching her soap operas on the telly.

But contrary to most of my friends' reviews here in Goodreads, I loved the ending in the book. I think it is the right conclusion as a reminder to parents not to take their children for granted. Well, it is quite different in the movie adaptation for obvious reason: viewers normally want to have a happier ending. Maybe the director of the movie was on Sarah's side since mothers normally have the purse where the money to pay for the movie tickets come from.

I definitely have no regrets reading this book. I just will not read another Picoult again. For me, reading Picoult is like bungee jumping. Once is enough.
Profile Image for Deanna .
647 reviews12.4k followers
April 16, 2015
I loved this book. Decided to re-read it recently as I happened to catch part of the movie on TV the other day.

This is Jodi Picoult at her finest. I have enjoyed all of her books but this one is at the top. When I first read it in 2005 I was practically forcing people to read it. It gained more popularity when the movie came out but I was a fan from the moment I opened the book and read the first page.

Jodi Picoult has written about many controversial subjects and this one focuses on genetic engineering. Kate Fitzgerald has a rare form of leukemia. Her parents conceived her sister, Anna as a donor match for procedures that Kate required. At age 13, Anna decides to hire a lawyer so she can sue her parents basically for rights to her own body.

I found this book to be so engrossing that I read it in two sittings. I would have finished in one if I hadn't had to go to work.

It is hard not to be sympathetic to everyone in the book. It raises so many questions and all these years later I am still thinking of the possible answers. What lengths would you go to to save a life? Especially the life of a child?

Jodi Picoult handled issues sensitively and wrote a thoughtful, moving story that keeps you interested from start to finish. This is one of those books that you cannot put down. I will always hold this book close to my heart and recommend highly.



Profile Image for Nicole.
708 reviews1,735 followers
March 5, 2021
Many reviews on GR mentioned that this book has a terrible ending, maybe I should’ve seen it coming but I didn’t. The way things ended shocked me. The book was great, I kept asking myself, if I was Ana, Sarah, Kate, Brian, or even Jessie, what would I’ve done? I’m not going into the details, most of you know the story. I just want to say that I’m very disappointed that the author failed miserably after posing a great dilemma. I’m still giving it 3 stars for the first 95% of the story and only dropped my rating by 1 star.

Even with that ridiculous end, I would still recommend this book if you’re looking for a story set in our days that will make you question yourself. I listened to the audiobook and if you’re looking for a good audio, this one won’t disappoint. The story is told from many povs and each is narrated by a different person.
Profile Image for Sharon.
17 reviews4 followers
Read
September 18, 2007
it would be impossible for me to overstate how much i hated this book. I hated, hated, hated this book. I guessed the end 5 pages into it, but read it through anyway (why?)(probably because everyone else in nursing school was reading it and wanted to tell me how good it was. Never trust nurses). Interesting for the medical information, and if it convinced one person to become an organ donor it served its purpose in the world, but man, was it hard to read. It was trite and simplistic and written unsuccessfully from the viewpoints of many different people, all of whom spoke with exactly the same voice(extremely flimsy characterization). I didn't care about any of them and sort of welcomed and even hoped for their deaths. And the subplot with the two lawyers made me want to swallow the barrel of a shotgun. If you are 34 years old and can't get past what someone did to you in high school, you are NOT MATURE ENOUGH to be a lawyer and should probably just kill yourself now. I get the feeling that this woman found a grad school paper about organ donation and wrote a novel around it in a week. Maybe less.
I hated this book. Negative stars.
Profile Image for Phyllis Eisenstadt.
48 reviews80 followers
March 20, 2016


AGAINST HER WILL

If Jodi Picoult's intent was to shock readers and make them cringe, she has succeeded beyond belief. As the mother of an extremely ill child, she was desperate to find a way to keep her alive. The premise was to conceive a sibling that could be a resident "body parts donor" for her older sister. I was incensed by the painful, invasive procedures she had doctors inflict upon the younger sibling. Although, as a mother, I fully understand how imperative it was to forge ahead and do whatever was necessary to save her older daughter; I, too, would do everything...everything, that is, short of creating an innocent child to be a living body parts donor.

I found myself angry with the mother, and my anger eventually transferred to the author. It wasn't until an author/friend of mind reminded me that when a novelist evokes such strong emotions, it is exactly what s/he had intended. So, although I find the premise nightmarish and cringe-worthy, I will not "kill the messenger," after all; instead, I applaud Picoult's superb writing style.

Phyllis Eisenstadt
Profile Image for Mitabird.
970 reviews31 followers
January 28, 2009
My Sister's Keeper was one of the most heart wrenching stories I've ever read. Anna's sister, Kate, is dying from a rare form of leukemia. She was conceived as a genetic match to help save her sister's life. It was supposed to be a one-time deal, but over the course of her 13 years, Anna has donated multiple times. Her sister is in need of a kidney and Anna's decided she's had enough of being told how to use her body. She decides to sue her parents for medical emancipation and refuses to give up her kidney. She knows the possible consequences of her actions, but she wants to be the one to make the choice, not her parents. What follows is a harrowing tale told in the view of six people affected by Anna's decision. I really can't say too much else without giving anything away, but this is a must read, albeit an emotional one.
Profile Image for Annemarie.
249 reviews683 followers
July 27, 2020
Actual rating: 1.5 ⭐'s

This could have been a very good book. The premise has intrigued me for years: It presents an interesting situation, one where I would have no idea how to act or react if it happened to me in real life. So I was extremely curious how Picoult would handle such a difficult and sensitive, but also very important, topic...Well, unfortunately I was also extremely disappointed!

I realized pretty quickly that I didn't like the execution, but I kept on reading hoping it would get better. Also (and that is one of the few positives that I could find) the story was very easy to read. I read a higher amount pages in a day than I usually do. And this despite the fact that I didn't actually like the writing style. I kept stumbling over words for some reason. Maybe it was the sentence structure? I can't really tell, but something just felt off. (Although I need to mention that I read the German translation, so maybe it's down to the translator and not Picoult herself.)

My main issue was the fact that the book kept straying away from the main storline. Like I said previously, the story is about an important topic. So why would you not stay on this important topic? Why would you instead keep going back to talking about other, less important things, that, in the end, added absolutely nothing to the main story? I picked up this book because I wanted to read how a family deals with something as heavy and horrible as cancer. I simply do.not.care. about a trivial love story!!

I just...I'm sorry, but this stupid unnecessary love story keeps making me angry whenever I think about it. I've read a lot of books with unnecessary romance tropes before, but this book truly takes the cake! It simply made no sense why it was there. Was it so the book could fulfill the requirements to be considered "Chick-Lit"?
Because honestly, the only thing it did was make the book less believable (I'd like to think a guardian ad litem needs to be impartial to the attorneys involved in a court case - ) and cliché.

Talking about Julia...holy moly, where to begin?!
She is one of the most cliché characters I have ever encountered. She hits so many boxes of "how not to write a female character". I can't possibly tell you how many times I rolled my eyes when I read something written out of her perspective!
But hey, maybe I just don't get her, because she's ✧・゚: *✧・゚:* different *:・゚✧*:・゚✧ and ♥*♡∞:。.。not like other girls。.。:∞♡*♥. She speaks her mind and doesn't care what others think of her and she dyes her hair and she likes to spend her free time in cemeteries and engage in sexual favors next to graves. ♡(⚗ ˘ ⚗)♡ How endearing! ♡(⚗ ˘ ⚗)♡
She and her characteristics annoyed me to such an extent that I considered several times to just abandon the book and never pick it up again.
Unfortunately, I still had some faith left that everything would, at some point, turn around and maybe everything would end in a satisfying way...(spoilers: It didn't.)

The parts about the actual topic - cancer and the wish of a young girl to decide what happens with and to her own body - were interesting. So was the side plot of Jesse, the brother. However, his problems and actions (which were a result of him being unable to deal with Kate's illness) were of such a heavy severity that treating them as a side plot seemed unjustifiable and insufficient. The guy clearly has some deep mental health issues, Something as serious as this needs its own book (or at least be the only side plot! If only there was the option to not concentrate on writing an unnecessary romantic plot, and instead focus on some actual intriguing topics...).
Here, it seemed like these things aren't even that big of a deal.

Overall, you could say that there was simply too much going on, most of it not really adding anything of value. This also includes the sometimes very cheesy, overused and pseudo-deep/pseudo-intellectual phrases, scenes and snippets.
And then, when I thought it couldn't get any worse, the ending came along....
WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT??? Seriously, I don't think I have EVER been so angry at an ending. Suddenly, not only the secondary storylines and stupid platitudes seemed unnecessary, but the ENTIRE BOOK seemed pointless!
Honestly, I feel like Picoult simply chose to take the easy way out, so she wouldn't upset and anger any readers who might disagree with the outcome of the court case. And I'm sorry, but I refuse to accept or respect such a choice. The court case ended in a perfectly logical way, with everything explained. She should have left it at that and made a statement

One little positive thing (besides how quickly I was able to get through this book) was Campbell's aid dog. I was very happy to see some representation of a non-blind person in need of a service animal. Even better was the fact that the struggles of having such an animal might bring along (e.g. people petting the dog, people wondering why he needs a service dog if he isn't blind, etc.) were portrayed.
But besides that...I originally gave 2 stars, but I decided to knock my rating down to just 1, because the more I think about it, the more annoyed I get. I was expecting to come out of this being being upset and crying, but I did not think I would be crying out of frustration!
Profile Image for Madeline.
766 reviews46.9k followers
July 7, 2007
The conflict alone is what makes this book fascinating - the story focuses on two sisters, Anna and Kate. The older sister, Kate, was diagnosed with leukemia when she was four. Knowing that their daughter would need blood donations, bone marrow, and possibly organ donations in the future, Kate's parents had another child whose sole purpose would be to provide a blood match for Kate. Thirteen years later, Anna gets tired of spending almost all her time in hospitals, giving bone marrow and blood to keep her sister's cancer at bay. When Anna learns that Kate needs a kidney transplant, she sues her parents for the rights to her own body. The resulting trial, and the ending of the book, was tense and riveting.
After finishing this book, I immediately went out and read two more of Picoult's books, Plain Truth and Vanishing Acts. It was then that I discovered that, like Dan Brown and William Shakespeare, Jodi Picoult is able to write wonderful stories that keep the reader entertained from start to finish. But these writers have something else in common: when they find a plot formula they like, they run that sucker into the ground. Picoult's novels follow this track: Improbable and dramatic event (Sister suing parents over kidney transplant, Amish girl accused of killing her baby, father arrested for kidnapping his own daughter), dramatic trial, switching narratives, two people falling in love who shouldn't, dramatic trial decision, twist ending. Read one and you've pretty much read them all. But My Sister's Keeper is the best of the bunch, so pick that one. Skip Nineteen Minutes and The Tenth Circle; they're the worst of the bunch.
Profile Image for Israt Zaman Disha.
192 reviews423 followers
March 1, 2017
How it feels to know that you have a disease and you are going to die any day? There is no guarantee of your life. Will you be prepared when death comes? Is it even possible to be prepared for death? So that one can accept it as 'I knew this was gonna happen' way?

These are the questions that I ask myself sometime. One of my senior's father in university had been diagnosed with cancer. And after a month he was gone. At the same time I donated blood to a cancer patient. I talked with the patient quite a lot while waiting. She is fighting with cancer for a long time. From then on I have started asking myself these questions.

The hardest thing I faced while reading this book is that I don’t have anyone to blame. If only I could blame anyone everything would be so much easier. I could take a side then, I could tell that the other party is wrong. But who to blame when everyone is right?

Can you blame Anna? Because she doesn't want to give her sister an organ. I love my sister a lot. When I was a kid I used to cry if my mother scolded my sister and she would laugh seeing me cry. I used to give her my share of chocolate, ice cream basically everything she asked. She was once admitted to hospital to keep under observation when I was in class eight. It turned out nothing serious. I remember the day my parents took her to hospital. I cried a lot. I think if I was asked to trade place with her I would do that. If I have to give one of my organ to her I would give it to her if it benefits her. But can I really do all this if the time ever comes (which, I pray, never comes)?

“If you have a sister and she dies, do you stop saying you have one? Or are you always a sister, even when the other half of the equation is gone?” 

Can you blame Sara or Brian because they want one of their child to live? Because they made a designer baby to save their daughter? Because they want one of their daughters to donate an organ otherwise their other daughter is going to die? My mother had to undergo a tumor operation a few years ago. I was terrified inside when my mother was taken to the OT. It was not a operation where there is a chance for things to go wrong. It was an extremely easy case and everybody knew that. But yet I was so terrified and I don't want to see anyone of my family to go to OT ever again. When I cannot stand a simple operation of my mother how can a parent stand to see their daughter dying and not do anything?

Now there's Jesse. Who doesn't want some extra attention? But Jesse was not asking extra attention. He just wanted his share of attention. Every child seeks attention. As a child Jesse did not get any. And all the frustration was gradually growing inside of him. Sara and Brian saw that. But they were occupied with their daughter who might die if they avert their eyes for a few moments. Who do I blame for Jesse's condition? No one. There were times when I was too busy with school and my mother got busy with me, taking me to school and picking me up, giving me extra attention because I was aiming higher in life and most probably I had the potential to achieve the goal. My sister took care of me at that time. Sometimes she got angry and told my parents that they are not giving attention to her. Now while I am reading this story I wonder if she still hold some grudges against us for that time.

**********Some May Find Mild Spoiler Ahead************

Finally can you blame Kate because she doesn't want to live anymore? Because she is tired of living in hospitals and going through operation? Sometimes I think that If I get to know that I am dying in six moths because of some incurable disease then I would want to live my life fully rather than spending the rest of my life in hospital beds.

******** End of Spoiler Warning **************

Finally, this book took me in an emotional ride. It made me appreciate my life. It made me think a lot about those people and those families who don't have what I have. A healthy and happy life and family.

“And the very act of living is a tide; at first it seems to make no difference at all, and then one day you look down and see how much pain has eroded."

P.S. I got too emotional while reading this book and got carried away while writing review. That's why it's such a long review(which is not actually a review but my thoughts).
Profile Image for Paul Weiss.
1,182 reviews124 followers
January 27, 2023
There are differences between "ethical", "legal" and "moral" rights and responsibilities

Kate Fitzgerald is barely beyond infancy when she is diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), a rare and particularly robust and aggressive form of leukemia. The prognosis is bleak indeed and recovery is rarer than the cancer itself. When Kate's parents are faced with the urgent necessity to find a blood donor that is not just a match, but a perfect match, they set out to create a genetically matched sibling who will provide a perfectly matched, life-saving, blood-filled umbilicus upon her birth. The second daughter, whose blood saves Kate's life within seconds of her birth, is named Anna.

But APL is a most persistent disease and when it re-occurs after a remission, a particular treatment is never successful a second time. Successive bulwarks of defense against the cancer's onslaught must, of necessity, involve progressively more aggressive medicine. As a result, the demands that are made of Anna to act as a donor become progressively more invasive, more time-consuming and more demanding as she grows older until, at the tender age of 13, she is faced with the requirement to provide a kidney for her sister whose organs are failing under APL's unremitting attack.

Long frustrated with the fact that nobody has ever listened to her or consulted her with respect to the medical decisions that are centered around Kate, Anna approaches Campbell Alexander, a litigation attorney, and sues her parents for "medical emancipation", the right to make her own medical decisions and take command of her own body. Anna's mother, a former attorney, decides to represent her husband and herself at the trial.

MY SISTER'S KEEPER is no different than any of Picoult's other novels in that it addresses issues in a non-judgmental fashion from a wide variety of perspectives without attempting to take sides or present pat answers that simply don't exist. MY SISTER'S KEEPER touches on genetic engineering; the insane demands made upon a parent's time and energy in dealing with children's illnesses; the extent to which children may act out for better or for worse in a demand for a parent's love and attention; the difficulty of determining whether a 13 year old minor is capable of making adult decisions about the medical disposition of her own body; the existence of boundaries to the demands a parent may make of a child; the differences between moral, ethical and legal rights.

As I turned the pages faster and faster, getting closer to the end of the book and the closing of the trial, I realized that Picoult had very few pages left in which she could effectively wind up her story and resolve the issues which as yet remained entirely open. With a raised eyebrow, I wondered how she was going to achieve a writing feat I thought quite impossible with so few pages left in the story. But, manage it she did. A beautifully engineered surprise ending that will just about break your heart wraps up every thread in the story but leaves the novel's ability to provoke a reader's thought on the issues she raises completely intact.

You can definitely count me a stand-up wildly clapping Jodi Picoult fan. Highly recommended.

Paul Weiss
Profile Image for emma.
1,784 reviews42.8k followers
October 28, 2021
one time i watched the movie adaptation of this in high school health class, but we had to watch it in like multiple days of class, so when the twist hit we were more confused than anything else.

even that bizarre viewing experience was more memorable to me than this book.

part of a series i'm doing where i review books i read a long time ago and remember little to nothing about
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