Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Sister's Keeper

My Sister's Keeper: A NovelI was born for a very specific purpose. I wasn't the result of a cheap bottle of wine or a full moon or the heat of the moment. I was born because a scientist managed to hook up my mother's eggs and my father's sperm to create a specific combination of precious genetic material.

...I'm an allogeneic donor--a perfect sibling match. When Kate needs leukocytes or stem cells or bone marrow to fool her body into thinking it's healthy, I'm the one who provides them.
I like happily ever after endings. The way I look at it, life is full of ups and downs, and you can end a story on an upswing, or downswing, which means sad endings aren't any more "real" than happy endings. Not to mention that I really, really hate it when a writer yanks at my heartstrings instead of taking the time to actually put a good story together.

Which is why it took me so long to get around to reading My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult.

My Sister's KeeperWow. What I was missing out on! It's not a weepy, tearjerker book at all. It's about very nice people, dealing with a very difficult situation as best they can. Yes, it's sad, but for a good reason and I can't think of any better path the story could have taken.

If you're not already familiar with the plot line of My Sister's Keeper, it boils down to this: Anna was conceived to save her sister's life, but how much of herself will she have to give up in the process? When it comes time to give her sister Kate a kidney, Anna hires a lawyer to gain medical emancipation.

One song came to mind for Anna, Kelly Clarkson's Because of You.
Although I am nine months pregnant, although I have had plenty of time to dream, I have not really considered the specifics of this child. I have thought of this daughter only in terms of what she will be able to do for the daughter I already have. I haven't admitted this even to Brian, who lies at night with his head on my considerable belly, waiting for the twitches that herald--he thinks--the first female placekicker for the Patriots. Then again, my dreams for her are no less exalted; I plan for her to save her sister's life.
Anna's mother, Sara
Both the book and the song are about children having to deal with adult circumstances, situations that even the adults can't handle, and yet their children are expected to display emotional maturity.
Because Of You"I was so young
You should have known better than to lean on me
You never thought of anyone else
You just saw your pain
And now I cry
In the middle of the night
For the same damn thing"
Throughout the book, when Anna is described from the point of view of the adults around her, it is clear she has learned to act like an adult and to hide the fear and insecurity she is really feeling. She is a good little trooper, putting up with whatever is asked of her.
This is not Anna. I am used to struggling with Jesse, to lightening Kate's load; but Anna is our family's constant. Anna comes in with a smile. Anna tells us about the robin she found with a broken wing and a blush on its cheek; or about the mother she saw at Wal-Mart with not one but two sets of twins
Anna's father, Brian
Or as the song says:
"I cannot cry
Because I know that's weakness in your eyes
I'm forced to fake, a smile, a laugh
Every day of my life
My heart can't possibly break
When it wasn't even whole to start with"
What I love best about My Sister's Keeper, though, is that Picoult does an excellent job of showing you how what seems so unreasonable from one character's point of view, is understandable and logical to another character. Yes, there is a great deal placed on Anna, but there are no bad guys in this book. Each person is honestly doing their best, making the best decisions they know how to make, while dealing with an overwhelmingly difficult situation that makes easy solutions impossible to find. My Sister's Keeper is a wonderful book, thoughtful and thought-provoking. I will be looking for more of Picoult's books.

Books: My Sister's Keeper, Jodi Picoult
Music: Because of You, Kelly Clarkson


Jaleh D said...

I might have to finally read that book. I kept seeing it around, but I hadn't wanted to pick it up. I just don't really get into medical type stories. I only watched Lorenzo's Oil, because one of my college professor's used the movie in one of the classes. It was good but heartwrenching. I'm glad I saw it, but it's not the sort of thing I'd watch on purpose just because I was in the mood.

LindsayWrites said...

i need to see that movie! ive heard good things.
new follower! love the blog!

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