My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
I am not a big Jodi Picoult fan, but I must admit that My Sister’s Keeper kept me reading (right through breakfast, at one point) until I had finished.
The story is about a loving family torn apart by one sister’s mortal illness and her parents’ attempt to deal with that illness. Kate comes down with APL, acute promyelocytic leukemia, a particularly nasty disease with a horrible prognosis. A subtle suggestion from one of their doctors leads Sara and Brian, the parents, to deliberately have a child that will be a stem cell donor for their sick child. Anna is born and does donate her umbilical cord stem cells to Kate, and all is well for a while. Until Kate has a relapse – and Anna is once again pressed into service as a bone marrow donor; a blood donor; and so it goes, until Anna turns 13 and is asked to donate a kidney. She takes all her savings and hires an attorney to file for medical emancipation from her parents.
It is the interaction and relationships of the famiily (mother, father, Jesse the older brother, Kate and Anna, her lawyer, Campbell, and her guardian ad litem, Julia that make this book of complex medical and moral issues come alive. Picoult uses all her characters as narrators and so you get various points of view – a device I often dislike, but that works very well in this instance.
My one quibble is an ending that is a total surprise and a bit contrived. But the issues brought up by this extremely difficult and complex situation and the real attempt by all the characters involved to act in a manner they consider morally sound makes for a fascinating and thoughtful read. Meg
[Incidentally My Sister’s Keeper has been made into a movie, starring Nick Cassavetes, Cameron Diaz and Alec Baldwin. The movie is due out mid-June.]