“Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate—a life and a role that she has never challenged… until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister—and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves.” My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult.
***Spoilers of how the book ends in the ‘why’ section***
The premise of this book had me hooked right away, but I’ll admit it, I didn’t love this story. I do like Jodi Picoult; she’s a great writer and she can definitely provoke emotion, but this book fell a little flat.
It’s likely that you’ve seen the movie and I just want to note, I tried to watch the movie after I read the book and Sara comes across as much more loving in the first 10 minutes so I didn’t finish the movie. You have to portray the characters as they are written, not how you wish they had been written!
The book is told from multiple points of view. Anna is the main voice, but we get to hear from Anna’s father, her lawyer, her guardian ad litem, her brother, and most notable, her mother. Most of the book is set in the present day, but Anna’s mother is mostly told in flashbacks.
The characters were unlikeable. There, I said it. Not all of them, mind you, but the least likable character was Sara, the mom. When Sara finds out that her 2-year-old, Kate, has leukemia, her world stops. Which is 100% understandable. I can’t even imagine the pain that a mother would go through when finding out something like that. So far, so good. Sara’s answer to this problem is to create a baby that is genetically identical to Kate so that the new baby can donate organs to Kate.
Read that again. Sara has Anna for the sole purpose of donating Anna’s organs to Kate. Anna is literally just an organ farm to Sara. I thought that maybe once Anna was born that Sara would see Anna as a baby and be excited about her new daughter, but the book never makes Sara out as loving Anna as much as Kate. There’s an instance when Sara is pregnant with Anna and she is asked if she has a name for the baby, and she admits that she hasn’t even thought about anything regarding this baby except that it’ll save Kate.
Anna sues her parents for the rights to her own body so we spend the majority of the novel learning about the upcoming case and getting a side story about Anna’s lawyer and his love interest, who happens to be Anna’s guardian ad litem. Sara spends the whole time trying to guilt Anna into giving Kate the kidney that she needs. She never thinks about what Anna is going through, she’s so fixated on saving Kate.
I don’t know, y’all. It just bothers me when a character is SO obviously flawed and has no redeeming arc. When they’re in court Sara makes a lot of statements about how much she loves Anna and how she cares about her just as much as Kate, but there is no evidence of fair love throughout the rest of the book. There’s nothing wrong with having a good antagonist, but in the last few chapters, it seems as if Sara is suddenly supposed to be the awesome mom – when she’s very clearly not.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
Why: The story was frustrating and so were the characters. As I’ve already mentioned, Sara was a very unlikable character with no redeeming qualities and no arc. And now I’m going to spoil the ending for you, so if you would actually like to read this book you may want to stop here (the three stars are because the story is interesting, there is an emotional pull – so, if you like to cry, here you go, and Anna is well written). Anna wins the lawsuit against her parents and is granted rights to her own body. That’s great, isn’t it? But then Anna gets in a car wreck and is proclaimed brain dead. Yep. And as if that wasn’t annoying enough, her lawyer (who was appointed to be her legal guardian when it comes to medical stuff) has them donate her organs to her sister. Kate then lives and there’s a lovely prologue where Kate is now a dance teacher and everything is great. Basically, even Picoult loved Kate more than Anna. It wasn’t a twist that was needed. It came out of nowhere and made no sense that we would spend the entire novel rooting for Anna to get bodily autonomy to only have to still donate the kidney that her sister needed. What was the point?
Ending Thoughts: Picoult has so many great books, get one of those and not this one. It’s really not worth it unless you want to cry a lot because children have cancer and be upset when a mom is very obviously biased.
Wishing you all a safe and happy Friday, Storm