DON'T READ THIS IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS IN THE BOOK!!! :)
I read "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult as part of our English class book report project.
The book focuses on the struggles of the Fitzgerald family as a result of their daughter Kate’s illness – she suffers from APL, a form of Leukaemia. She was diagnosed when she was two, and at sixteen she has undergone many surgeries, transplants and tests. Her sister Anna is three years younger than her and was a designer baby – she was born specifically to act as spare parts for Kate, and has spent her whole life donating bone marrow, promyelocytes, tissue and more to her sister. Kate needs a kidney and Anna will have to give Kate hers, but she decides that she has had enough and looks for medical emancipation by suing her parents for the rights to her own body. This tears her already-fragile family apart at the seams.
In the novel, each family member is highlighted through their own words, as too are other key characters involved in the case, such as Anna's lawyer Campell Alexander and her guardian ad-litem Julia Romano. The book was written in a format that enabled the reader to get a deep insight into each charaters mind; I could clearly see what each character was thinking, how they felt, their reaction to the case and also their reactions to Kate's illness. Despite the main story of the novel being centred around Kate, none of the story was told from her perspective, except the final chapter, which is written after the case ends and the devastating events that follow have occured. Each chapter was written in the first person from the point of one of the characters, almost like a diary.
My favourite character was Jesse; Anna & Kates' brother. Jesse is the eldest in the family and describes himself in the novel as being "the lost cause". He is a disruptive child and his parents, especially his mother (Sara) seem to have given up on him. Jesse is a pyromaniac and regularly sets fire to vacant buildings around area where he lives. This is symbolic in many ways. Firstly, his father, Brain is a fireman, and it is he who has the job of putting out the fires that Jesse starts. It is made known in the novel that Jesse has suffered from lack of attention since Kate was diagnosed when he was four, and this could be his way of secretly looking for attention from his dad, even though Brian is oblivious to his son's actions. Also, fire also plays an important part in the novel and could be considered a key theme. At the start of each new section, there are quotes or poems based on fire, as the dysfunctional family are described as "burning themselves out". Jesse lives in an apartment above the family's garage, another indication of his parents lack of consideration for their son. In the same way that his family have given up on Jesse, he seems to have given up on his family. He has accepted in his mind that his family has no time for him; Kate gets attention because he is sick and Anna does because she can save Kate so Jesse feels inadequate. Jesse has tried to ammend this by donating blood at the hospital every three days, unbeknownst to his parents. After Sara noticed injection marks on his arm, she questioned him, believing that he was doing drugs. His reply was; "...Didn't you wonder who else was keeping Kate in platelets?" Another very symbloic quote from Jesse is "Darkness, you know, is relative." Jesse knew he had problems, and to him this was important, but he understood that Kate's problems were even more important. His philosophical views & attitude, along with his nobility made him my favourite character.
My Sister’s Keeper deals with many topical and controversial topics, such as designer babies and using one child to save another. On the front cover of the book it posed the question; “If you use one of your children to save the life of another, are you being a good mother or a very bad one?” I found while reading the book that this question regularly ran through my mind. It certainly is a very difficult question to answer and a very debatable subject. This makes the novel very interesting and made me want to keep reading. During the court case Sara makes the point very clear that she loves both of her daughters equally. I think Sara's character is probably the most hard to understand as a teenage reader but in the end it was clear that Sara loved her children and was just doing what she believed was in her sick daughter's best interests.
I really enjoyed reading this book because it opened my eyes to some of the most touching, poignant and thought-provoking subjects written about. I thought that it was very inspiring, especially as the novel was partly inspired by a true story. It made me think a lot about what real problems are. I thought the book was very philosophical and I found that the many twists in it (especially the ending!) made it a very interesting, enjoyable and emotional read. Definitely a book I'd recommend; I'd give it 10/10! :)