Fiction – paperback; Coronet Books; 448 pages; 2005.
Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper is an intriguing and intelligent book about a moral and ethical medical dilemma: is it OK to conceive a genetically matched child so that the baby’s cord blood cells can be donated to her older sister who is sick and dying from a rare blood disorder? And if the “designer baby” is continually “used” to help her sister, should she be able to say no at any point?
After a lifetime of medical procedures to help her sister, 13-year-old Anna decides she has had enough and takes the drastic step of suing her parents for the rights to her own body. The outfall is, obviously, emotionally powerful: anger and heartbreak mixed with confusion, pain and disbelief. The mother’s initial reactions are particularly telling.
I found the subject of Picoult’s eleventh novel fascinating and her writing deft and free from cloying schmaltz. Each character in the novel takes it in turn to narrate chapters, which is a great device for being able to show the range and complexity of different conflicting viewpoints. However, I found that trying to tell everyone’s story only served to make an already complicated book even more complicated. And the love element between Anna’s lawyer and the woman appointed to look at Anna’s case just added to the confusion – I really couldn’t have cared less about them.
On the whole, while My Sister’s Keeper didn’t really grab me by the jugular, I thought it was an interesting and entertaining read. The twist at the end, which came right out of left field, almost reduced me to tears it had such a forceful impact: it made reading the book all the more worthwhile.