Friday, July 3, 2009

Review: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

I loved this book...right up until the last 100 pages.
Kate Fitzgerald has a rare form of Leukemia, and needs bone marrow in order to keep her alive. Her sister, Anna, is a perfect match. She should be -- she was specifically chosen out of several embryos to match her sister. The parents created a donor for their one daughter, Kate, in the form of another daughter, Anna. After 13 years of hospital visits, painful procedures and medical treatments, Anna enlists the help of an attorney, Campbell Alexander, to help her obtain medical emancipation from her parents. She has had enough, but what about her sister? This is the story of My Sister's Keeper.
Let me explain why I love the first 3/4 of this book. In my opinion, any book that makes you feel, or makes you question your own morals on any given topic, is a success (like The Reader or The Road). This was the first Picoult book I ever read, but I think it will be my last. I am a mother, and my heart broke for the parents; but I also have a sister, and my heart broke for Anna as well. I felt like Picoult manipulated me somehow and sucked me into her formulaic novel just to lead me to a cheap ending.
Without ruining the ending, (I won't, I promise), I have to explain why the ending was so horrible. Did you ever see movies like Con Air, that just when you think the movie is over and everything is wrapped up, all of a sudden you're watching 30 more minutes of gratuitous violence and airplanes being blown up on the Las Vegas Strip because some prop master had some extra M-80s in the store room or they needed to stretch the time? This is how the ending felt. Gratuitous, self-serving, and disconnected with the overall sentiment of the story. My question is this: Was it the editor's decision or the author's? Without knowing the answer, I have a feeling this might be my last Picoult book.
Note #1, dated 3/09: I have yet to find a Picoult book jacket that doesn't make me want to jump off a bridge just from reading the blurb. Any suggestions?
Note #2, dated 6/09: I am usually the first person to go see a movie based on one of the books I've read, but I have yet to see My Sister's Keeper. Has anyone seen it yet? Thoughts?


Lisa Hickman said...

I saw the movie with my book group a couple of days ago. The movie has an entirely different ending than the book. The book made me angry and so did the movie. I agree Picoult manipulated the readers with her ending, trying to squeeze as much emotion from us as possible; but the whole book was about manipulation.......the parents, mainly the mother, manipulating genes to create a designer baby to serve as a donor for her other sick child. I'm glad I read the book and I'm glad I saw the movie, if only to remind me of my own humanity.

Alison said...

Lisa, I try not to judge parents by what they do for their children, or what decisions they make if they feel it's in the best interest of the child. I struggled with my "no judgment" philosophy in this book, because it felt like they sacrificed one daughter for another. I don't think any ending -- not in the book or in the movie -- could have changed that for me.

Did the movie's ending at least feel more connected to the story?

I have a friend who insists that I should not give up on Picoult. If anyone has any recommendations, I'm open to them!

pumkinhead64 said...

I've read several of her earlier ones, but not the last few. The first I read was The Pact, which was very difficult for me to finish. I became very emotionally connected to a few of the characters and saw where she was going. I think if she created such real people that you feel that way, it's a good thing, but still might not be something you want to take to the beach.

My favorite of hers that I've read so far would be Keeping Faith. Again, Plain Truth was the last of hers I read, so I can't speak to any of the stuff since she became a bestselling author.

What I like about her books is that she generally doesn't seem to pick a side in these often politically-charged topics about which she writes.

Alison said...

Plain Truth was recently recommended to me. I'm going to do a search for reviews before I get it (see...I practice what I preach!)

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