Lindsay's Reviews > My Sister's Keeper

My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Aug 14, 2007

did not like it
bookshelves: misc
Recommended for: Jodi Picoult fans, chick lit fans

** spoiler alert ** Have you ever read a book that really pissed you off? Pissed you off so much all you could do was rant about it until everyone told you to just shut up? This is that book for me.
Picoult's dialogue is excellent, but her characters annoy me and the ending of this book was such a cop-out I almost wrote her an angry letter about it, but decided against it, as she'd never read it anyway.
Basically, "My Sister's Keeper" is about a family with three kids - I forget their real names, so I'm giving them fake ones: Token Boy Child, Leukemia, and Spare Parts. Mom and Dad find out about Leukemia's unfortunate diagnosis when she's just two, so they decide to have another baby - not to replace Leukemia when she inevitably bites it, but to provide Leukemia with spare parts for organ transplants. Spare Parts gets tired of being held back by her sister's needs - and in turn, Leukemia gets tired of holding her sister back; Spare Parts isn't allowed to go to overnight camp and is being forced to quit playing her favorite sport because Leukemia needs a new kidney. Spare Parts goes to a lawyer in an attempt to get medical emancipation from her parents. She winds up winning it, but dies in a car crash. Mom pulls the plug immediately, Leukemia gets a new kidney, and - even better - Leukemia is magically cured of her illness altogether. Also, there was a stupid subplot about the lawyer and social worker falling in love.
The mother character annoyed me the most here; she didn't love her daughters equally, and it showed. It really showed. She loved Leukemia the way you love a child. She loved Spare Parts the way you love that child's trust fund or college savings. She played favorites and made no attempt to hide it.
This whole book infuriated me - the very idea of having another kid just so your sick child can have her own personal organ bank sickens me. It really does. You're supposed to have a child because you will love that child, not to fill the needs of another child.
721 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read My Sister's Keeper.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

02/10/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 112-161)

message 161: by VMom (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:54PM) (new)

VMom Great review. I love how you've dubbed them Leukemia & Spare Parts. I hated that ending too. Not only an easy out for the family but such an easy way for the author to punish the mom for her favoritism with Teh Guilt. If only she had made Leukemia die anyway after she gets the kidney. Double Scoops of Guilt!
Though maybe the mom would have adopted new kids then. Or something.

message 160: by Sera (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:40PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sera I agree with you so much. I hated the ending so much, viewing it to be weak. It's as if Picoult ran out of steam and didn't know what to do so she chose the easy way out. She did this in The Pact, too. She has an uncanny knack of picking a great and interesting theme and then disappointing the reading with her lame endings.

message 159: by Mindy (new) - rated it 1 star

Mindy I really liked this book, but the ending sucked so badly that it totally ruined the whole thing for me -- like you, I was actually angered by how sucktacularly bad it was.

message 158: by Amy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy You forgot the stupid subplot about the arsonist son/firefighter dad. Because there wasn't enough going on.

message 157: by Alexis (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alexis Thanks for the spoiler warning.

message 156: by Ann (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ann Love your review. Couldn't agree more. Minor point: it was Lawyer Man who ultimately decided to donate the kidney because he was the court appointed medical guardian or something like that. Not that it makes any difference in the outcome!

Elizabeth amen.

message 154: by [deleted user] (new)

Yes!! The book is such an act of cowardice.

message 153: by Clare (new)

Clare Great review. Our reading group has to read a Jodi P. about child abuse (natch) and I think you've just convinced me not to waste any hours of my life by reading it when there are so many more worthwhile books out there!

message 152: by Gyory (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gyory this book was great, you just have to be moderately intelligent (at least) to understand it's complexity. So i guess i see where you're coming from ;-)

message 151: by Laura (new) - rated it 1 star

Laura Thanks to all for hating this book as much as I did. What I found particularly disgusting is that there are actually people out there who will think that this is offering an accessible yet incisive take on a contemporary ethical issue when it's utter CRAP! The plotting and charater development are both unbelievably lazy. The whole is appallingly manipulative and about as deep as a soup spoon and as nuanced as a Hallmark card. Blech.

Heather The ending of the book was just the way life is. Unexpected tragedies happen everyday. I think that cop out would have been for Anna to decide to give Kate the kidney, and both of them live happily ever after. It makes the ending more real

message 149: by Ann (new) - rated it 2 stars

Ann Yes, I guess you do need to be moderately intelligent to be able to "understand it is complexity" -- though I'd rather try to "understand its complexity". ;-)

Stephanie I absolutely agree with you! I hated the ending! When I finished reading it I threw the book across the room as I cried. I just kept complaining to my husband about this book.
I also didn't like the characters - especially the lawyer who named her appliances.

rachel  misfiticus I mostly agree with you. I, however, HATE every aspect of this book. From the switching of character perspective in each chapter to the lack of research on leukemia, Picoult drives it home with cliche after cliche. A father who puts out fires and a son who creates them? "IRONY!" Punky offbeat girl meets generic jocky boy in high school (melodramatic love pursues) and then meet again as social worker and lawyer? Soul Mates! Obviously Picoult knows men.
The girl with Leukemia suffers through many surgeries for 13 years and then is instantly cured from gaining that particular kidney? If the reader has ever experienced a relationship with Leukemia he/she will regard J. Picoults work as narcissitic and absurdly hyperbolic.
This is a book that should never have been.

message 146: by [deleted user] (new)

I think the point was to hate the mother. Most people do hate her.

message 145: by Kate (new) - rated it 1 star

Kate Wonderful review. I will not read this book, I have read 2 Picoult books before: Salem Falls which I finished, and another which I forgot the title and could not get past page 40. I think she is a very good writer, but her themes/characters are not for me.

message 144: by Anne (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anne I loved the names you came up with! But the thing is that despite knowning her mom only created her for the sake of saving her sister, Anna really loved her mom. and that kind of drove me crazy the whole book. Was the hating the mom but loving the mom at the same time emotion that went through out the whole book.
The ending was definatly a 'didn't see that one coming.' I actually was thinking that this was a better ending than, they both live, or the sick one dies. Because those are the two you are expecting the entire time.

message 143: by Littlemisslauren (new)

Littlemisslauren i like your review and i'm glad to see so many people hate this book as much as i do, though i dislike it for other reasons. I had a sister who was killed in a car crash when she was six years old, this being twenty years ago. my sister wasn't killed instantly, she hit her head on the dashboard from sitting in the passenger seat and was later discovered brain-dead. picoult does not know what it is like to be losing someone so close to you, and you wanting to do everything you can to save them, but unable to. i can understand why the mom decided to have another child to maybe prolong kate's life, but it does not excuse her horrendous actions of obviously not caring for anna at all. picoult was a complete idiot and basically spat in the face of every parent who has ever had to make this decision. the mother's actions were completely unbelievable and i cannot stand the way picoult portrayed her. picoult is lucky to have never been in this position or had to watch a child die, but she needs to keep her nose out and not write books about a topic she knows nothing about.

message 142: by Rayni (new) - added it

Rayni I hated this book too. It is my first Jodi Picoult book & likely to be my last. I loved the names you came up with for the kids. The mother only loves Spare Parts for her "parts." I can't believe the father went along with the mother's plan in the first place, then 13 years later decides to stand up to his wife & what does it get him?

message 141: by Eibhleann (new)

Eibhleann I.... don't really agree with you. At all. Yes, yes, I know how it could be infuriating to see a selfish character--but isn't that life? Isn't the mother's selfishness and Anna's conflicting self-worth the whole point of the story? That's what makes it a heart-touching story--because it deals with this infuriating situation. It's also what makes it a good book. The mother isn't there to be a perfect mother--what's the point of that? Why would you ever write a story with perfect, unflawed people? The whole point of the book is how spiteful the characters are--and it's unbelievable that none of you have caught that. I think you're very close-minded for hating a book because the concept is unloving a brutal. Because that'w WHY the story was written. Really, it seems like my kind of book, and I really want to read it--showing the harsh truths of some humans' brutality. Maybe you couldn't didn't like the harsh messages? The mother WAS NOT there to be liked or sympathized with. None of you seemed to have caught that. All in all, a bad review.

message 140: by Rayni (new) - added it

Rayni That is what we come to Goodreads for, to share our reviews & thoughts. Not everyone is coming from the same place.

message 139: by Brooke (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brooke Okay, so that's her opinion---we're all entitled to one, right? (i)My(/i) opinion of this review is that it was terrible.
I loved this book and the ending was so (i)not(/i) a cop-out! The cop-out would be if Anna just decided to give Kate the kidney. Sure, it's not a (i)pretty(/i) story, or a (i)pretty(/i) ending, but that's what happens! That's life! Tragedies happen. Nothing (and nobody) is perfect. It's the real world.
Which clearly you don't live in, because the mother isn't there to be perfect, yet (i)I(/i) atleast (being--at the least--slightly intelligent), saw where the mother was coming from. In a way.
The point is that you have emotions toward the characters. Hasn't the world of literature had enough good-ol' Mary-Sues? It was a great book and Picoult is a great writer. I also thought that the point-of-view swapping was very clever. How else would we know everyone in the family's opinion? (And whether you will admit this or not--everyone in the family's opinion matters) Terrible review. Great book!

message 138: by Brooke (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brooke Oh, jeez! I did italics wrong! I'm so sorry!

message 137: by Rayni (new) - added it

Rayni It's carats <> not parens () for the italics (HTML). As I said earlier, that's what we come to Goodreads for, "to share our reviews & thoughts." It would be boring if we all thought the same thing. But we bring our life experiences to our reading, just as we do to other things.

message 136: by Wayne (new)

Wayne I so agree with Rayni!!
I've just read through these 25 comments and result???


So thankyou ALL!!!
Doing a GREAT JOB making Goodreads what it should be.
No one should need to apologise for their viewpoint, but we can all learn to accept an opposing one and often alter our own. JUST GREAT!!!

I have recently been on another Book Site like this with the book:"The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas."
I was exremely ANTI.
Go and view another stimulating site.

Happy Reading All!!
Wayne from Sydney, Australia.

message 135: by Wayne (new)

Wayne GOT IT!!!
At our local secondhand shop yesterday.
Along with "Wind in the Willows".Bit of a contrast that!!!

message 134: by Rayni (new) - added it

Rayni LOL, I'll say it's a bit of a contrast there. Good luck, I'll be interested in hearing your comments & review.

message 133: by Wayne (new)

Wayne Dear Rayni,
So far "Wind in the Willows" is wonderful.
I can recommend it as a "Recovery Pill" from JP's book!!!
Yes, Cleo's comments on JP were very very positive.Would be good to hear her expand on them.
A voracious reader and friend of mine did not like the book at all.So there we are!!
I think we can all learn from each other here because we all come to a work of art with our own baggage - life experiences, preferences and prejudices etc., etc. I can appreciate the Mums with bipolar children reacting strongly to this book.
I've clicked on "You are following this discussion" so I will get the latest updates.
Nice chatting with you, Rayni.

message 132: by Sarah (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sarah I just finished this book today and am as mad as you were. So mad that I'm hunting down other goodreads reviews so I can find people who will understand my fury. And I'm also mad enough that I'm thinking about writing the author. The ending absolutely was a cop-out. She writes this whole book about what a devestating choice this family is faced with and then lets them off the hook! If she wanted Anna to die that badly, have Anna decide to donate the kidney after winning emancipation and then die from complications during the surgery. But don't let the characters out of the moral, legal, and ethical dilemma that drove the entire plot! That's just lame.

message 131: by [deleted user] (new)

I finished the book yesterday and I was extremely mad at the way it ended. It was like oops my deadline is tomorrow I better finish this. There was so much buildup and the you win your law suite yeah but then you get snuffed. Then the sister make a miraculous recovery from a TERMINAL illness.

message 130: by Wenny (new) - rated it 5 stars

Wenny Rayni wrote: "That is what we come to Goodreads for, to share our reviews & thoughts. Not everyone is coming from the same place. "

I agree.

message 129: by Jill (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jill DeLeon Eibhleann wrote: "I.... don't really agree with you. At all. Yes, yes, I know how it could be infuriating to see a selfish character--but isn't that life? Isn't the mother's selfishness and Anna's conflicting self-w..."

I'm gonna have to agree with that. I don't believe the books sucks just because "no parent would actually do that". The book IS about parents who would actually do that. Each story has to be a mix of reality and deviance. That's what keeps a story beautiful. But, it's your opinion and I respect that.

If you want a story that is totally realistic, then go to the non-fiction section. If you can't deal with heavy themes like this, then stick to your Harry Potter.

message 128: by Betsy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Betsy Senn I am so glad I am not the only one who felt this way. I've spoken to people who LOVED the book and I really just HATE it more as I think about it!

message 127: by Heather (last edited Jul 04, 2009 12:14PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Heather I agree. Lets put aside the other complaints I have about this book/story. How can a book make you (ok maybe not make you but strongly influence) root for "spare parts" so much and for what? for the parents to get their way in the end? OK I have to go to my happy place now, LOL. Oh BTW I had to see the movie that I was dead set against seeing but it was my mother's Bday wish to see it..sigh.. Won't give anything away if you haven't seen it but the end is noooot like the book..

message 126: by Katie (new) - rated it 3 stars

Katie Yup, I'm with you. I thought the subject matter was interesting--different from Picoult's usual "this is the horrible thing that happened, let's watch as the aftermath unfolds" but yeah. She drew the mother very shallowly. I would have prefered some sort of internal conflict.

When I think of my son, I think about how I'd do anything I could to keep him safe, but at the same time, EW.

And the ending--don't even get me started. I spoiled it for myself by accident by seeing a date in the future with the leukemia girl's name, but I figured that her sister would win her emancipation but then DECIDE to give the kidney, because it was HER DECISION. The ending BLEW. And I don't think they gave enough foreshadowing for who was in on the plot with her.

message 125: by Kate (new)

Kate Your review really made me laugh! I'm so glad to NOT read this book. Thanks so much for the brilliant synopsis!

message 124: by Rayni (new) - added it

Rayni After Eibhleann's reply, I stopped following this discussion, but am glad there was an email reminding me of a followup comment. Out of curiosity, I followed it here. Glad to read the other replies.

I have a friend that had a daughter with this disease. I told her about the book & she said it was not something she wanted to read. She could relate to lining the kids up at the hospital to have them tested, but she had a daughter that did match her sister.

message 123: by Laura (new) - rated it 1 star

Laura LMAO!!!! Hilarious review. I hated this book and could only stand it til page 80. I love the names you made up for them I am cracking up!! I can't believe Spare Parts dies how stupid. And no a kidney transplant is not a treatment for leukemia I've ever heard of....sheeshh....

message 122: by Belle (new)

Belle Okay, so I have picked up on a couple of thoughts that people seem to have about the book.
1) That the book sickens them, therefore deeming it a terrible book.
Well, in many ways i agree with that opinion. I think the mom is a disgusting character. I hated the ending. I hated alot about this book.
BUT, bringing me to 2...
A book is not always supposed to make you smile. I normally do not like Jodi's books, but I decided to give this book a try. And I suppose I'm glad I did. It did what a book is supposed to do, and make you think. It made me realize how hard and cold people can be and the insane ways people justify themselves.



message 119: by Wayne (last edited Dec 25, 2009 10:16PM) (new)

Wayne You're a " breath of fresh air", Jasmine.
Not having read the book, but only purchased it, so that it lies languishing with all my millions of other unread volumes, I am in no position to take part in this discussion at all.
HOWEVER(!!!!!), I can entertain suspicions.
Which are...what type of books do these critics usually read??? How much do they question the status quo???
REALLY hope to start soon on Jodi P's My Sister's Keeper.Perhaps she is just presenting awful moral dilemmas and taking us out of our comfort zones?

message 118: by Judy (last edited Nov 17, 2009 04:13PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy I gave this book 4 stars, subtracting one for the ending. The ending did not ruin the book for me, though Anna’s death was overkill. That said, I enjoyed reading this review.

I can relate to many of the points Lindsay made. For example, Token Boy Child, who turns out to be a criminal… and then becomes a cop! Sara, the mother, was easy to hate, but Picoult did a great job of showing why she was the way she was. Sara obviously preferred Kate to Anna, which was tough. I think she truly loved Anna, even if not enough. She blinded herself to Anna’s needs, because seeing Anna as a person in her own right would have required Sara to stop using her. This would have meant losing Kate. Not until the tides are turned with Anna's death and Kate's continued life, can Sara appreciate Anna the way Anna needed her to. By then, of course, it's too late. This is the kind of twist I think people mean when they talk about ‘poetic justice.’ The mother is punished for being unfair with their love (don't think the dad had a problem there). The ending would have been more realistic without killing Anna, but it seems Picoult wanted to make this point.

To me, the strength of this book is in the telling of the story, not in the plot. We know that it’s wrong to have a child simply to save another child. We walk into the book knowing that the parents are going to be the bad guys, period. It can be hard to appreciate this book without getting past that initial sin on the part of the parents. I read the book because I wanted to fathom how someone could tell this story without turning the parents into moustache-twirling villains. Can people who do this love their children? How do they justify coercing their child into repeatedly giving herself over? Picoult, IMO, did a pretty good job of this. She managed to walk the line between absolute contrivance and realistic reactions to extreme life stresses. On paper the parents’ behaviour was unethical, but Picoult showed why and how well-meaning people could behave this way. Having Kate look back on the whole thing was an irony that I appreciated. Upon finishing the book, I thought of all the reasons I might have been as pissed as hell with it and had to wonder why I somehow didn’t feel that way.

message 117: by Kris (new) - rated it 1 star

Kris I am glad to see there are a few others who do not find J. Picoult to be their cup of tea...I felt very odd, not liking "19 Minutes" at all because of the obviousness of the ending by about 1/3 of the way through the book, and kept getting these odd looks when I'd mention it to others (that the ending is obvious, not what the ending was).

Same thing here. It was pretty obvious by very early on what her "twist" ending was going to be. I don't know...I just can't get into her writing style. I gave her a second shot w/ "My Sister's Keeper", but I'll be skimming right by any other Jodi Picoult books on the library shelves.

message 116: by Melanie (new) - rated it 1 star

Melanie I couldn't agree with you more in regards to this book. The ending was a complete cop-out and not at all realistic! I hated the mother with a passion, and I couldn't think of a better 2nd name for Anna than "Spare Parts" if I tried. If I could give negative stars to a book this would be it.

Christen I am so glad I am not the only one who LOATHED the book. Barf barf barf.

message 114: by V (new) - rated it 5 stars

V I like reading negative reviews to books I enjoyed. It gives me a new perspective and thanks for that.

But I do have to agree with Eibhleann.

Characters are not suppose to be perfect. Any writer and avid reader should know this. I'm also a mother and love my young daughter so much that I can relate to Anna's mom. That's what makes me human. And the story shows parts of us that can relate to someone else's imperfections. The best part of the book is that Picoult is able to get a reaction from the readers. Hating the mom is what Picoult should have done and she accomplished. The mirror of the dad and son is not only irony, but just another take on parent-child relationships. Even every day people, like us reviewers, subconsciously defy our parents or authority when we don't get what we want or need. In his case, attention. The tragedy lies in the fact that it took Anna's trial and death for her parents to wake up and realize the consequence of their action. Something they cannot see because of their love for their child.

A story of parents and children can be told many ways. I don't think Picoult's intention were to disrespect the sickness or those affected by tragedy, but to illustrate in a dramatic way, the true relationships in the world, how they transpire and unfold.

I suddenly know why English was so important in school: to catch the symbolism in life as well as paper.

message 113: by Alex (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alex The point of the book was to show different sides of an issue, like most of her other books. It is to show moral issues and how people deal with them. I think you're totally wrong with your review. This book actually gets to your emotions and shows the extent of what a mother will do for her daughter. Also, I thought the ending was great. If she had donated the kidney, that would have been expected. This way, it keeps you thinking, keeps you wondering what would have happened. I think this book was great as are all of her other books.

message 112: by Bry (new)

Bry Sadly I think this book is realistic in that there are a ton of parents out there that would do this. But I do feel the ending was a cop out since I seriously doubt Lukemia (which I LOVED you nicknames btw!) would have been miraculously cured by the lawyers kidney. Seems the more likely outcome was that she would have had some borrowed time, but eventually would have died as well leaving the mom with a son, memories of all of Lukemia's extra time on Earth, and (hopefully) a TON of guilt concerning her Spare Parts.

« previous 1 3 4
back to top