Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult

Posted by lea at 2:49 PM
The premise is quite controversial, which probably accounts for the popularity of the book. Anna (full name Andromeda, thanks to her father’s astronomy hobby) was a ‘designer baby’ chosen by her parents because her genes are a perfect match for her sister Kate, whose rare form of leukaemia has meant Anna has had to donate blood and marrow from the time of her birth (cord blood) until now, 13 years later. In the present day, Kate’s condition has deteriorated and their mother wants Anna to donate her kidney to her sister in a last ditch effort to keep her alive. The story begins when Anna hires a lawyer to gain medical emancipation from her parents.

Each chapter switches back and forth between the various characters in the story – not just the members of the family, who are torn apart by these circumstances, but also the lawyer Anna hires and the guardian ad litum who is assigned to her case – who also just happens to be the lawyer’s long-lost-but-never-forgotten love. Corny? Yes it is.

The characters are a little unbelievable – ie, it’s hard to believe that any mother would be so single-minded in her pursuit to save one child even to the detriment of another and complete neglect of yet another, and it’s hard to believe that a 13-year old could write so eloquently about her own situation.

The book was reminiscent of the filtered-screen, B-grade midday movies that have plots that would put a soap opera to shame. Picoult intersperses the chapters with quotes and poetry that give the book a semblance of depth, but merely highlight the lack thereof by comparison and leave you rather baffled as to how they actually fit into the story. The ending was, I’m sorry to say, cheap theatrics that smack of ‘God how am I going to finish this’ and the appendix ties everything up in a too-neat bow.

Rating: 5.5/10
I’m not surprised that while Picoult is undoubtedly a popular author, her work is highly criticised by many literary circles.


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