REVIEW: My Sister’s Keeper – Jodi Picoult (Book)

Originally written at 23/4/16

Current mood: I’m mad. Really mad.

My aunt was clearing her old book collection(She lent me To Kill a Mockingbird and The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, both are awesome!) and told me to choose anything I wanted out of the pile before she gave them away. There are multiple thriller and mystery novels, but I didn’t take them because those are bad for my heart. I’ve heard of Jodi Picoult before, and the story seemed ok, so I took it and left it there on my shelf collecting dust. Then one holiday I was cleaning the dust-filled bookshelves and it seemed like a good idea to read it, so I did.

The story takes place in a span of days, probably a week, told by six characters. There are also bits of flashbacks. There’s Anna, our conflicted, 13-year-old main character; her parents Sara and Brian; Anna’s brother Jesse (though he only plays a small part in narrating); Anna’s attorney Campbell; and finally the legal guardian person whatever Julia.

Anna hires Campbell as her attorney to sue her parents, specifically Sara, over control for her own body. Kate, Anna’s sister, is very sick. She has been since birth. To keep her alive Sara conceived genetically-engineered Anna for Kate’s needs. And things go smoothly for a few until Kate needs something to keep her alive again. Anna provides whatever Kate needs, and does so for the following years. If Kate gets admitted into the hospital, Anna will have to go too.

Kate’s kidneys are failing due to leukemia. Again, Anna is expected to donate her kidney to Kate, even if the surgery is not guaranteed to work. That is when Anna hires Campbell. Sara is outraged. She thinks Anna just wants attention. Things escalate quickly as Anna reveals that it was Kate who didn’t want the kidney transplant. Kate is tired of living like this, and wants it to stop. When everybody thinks Kate was the one destined to die, Anna gets involved in a car crash and becomes brain-dead. Her organs are donated and Kate survives the surgery and remains in remission until the book ends.

I have so many feels for this book, but mostly anger because while I had plenty of freedom since I was young, Anna didn’t. She didn’t have a choice. From Anna’s opening narrative, she was born for a purpose. And that was to save Kate. Her genes were specially engineered to be an exact copy of Kate’s. And I feel sorry for Anna, because she was literally a spare-organ provider for Kate. Sara may love Anna, yes, but from what I see, Sara loves Anna no more than her ability to save Kate’s life.

I was always frowning at Sara’s narratives (especially the flashbacks), but one scene really took the cake.

“…I don’t think you should take Anna in to donate blood.”
“When we had Anna,” I remind Brian, “we knew that she was going to be a donor for Kate.”
” Once. And she doesn’t have any memory of us doing that to her.”
“Would you give blood for Kate?”
“Jesus Sara, what kind of question——”
“I would too. … You do what ever you have to, when it comes to people you love right? What makes you think Anna would feel any different?”

What makes you think that Anna would NOT feel any different??? Have you ever asked Anna if she was wiling to do any of that shit, you stupid woman?! Did you??? Thought not! I screamed and shouted and cursed and even threw the book somewhere soft so it won’t crease! And then there’s another where Anna wants to go to a hockey training camp of some sort, but Sara refused to let her go:

…we will need Anna——her blood, her stem cells, her tissue——right here.

Because you don’t need Anna, your daughter; you need Anna, Kate’s spare-organ provider. I’m not even talking about Jesse!

He’s what we always write in high school essays: not enough love from parents will cause the child to get themselves involved in crimes so that they could get parent’s attention. A juvenile. And why? WHY? He has done so much crimes, so much that Sara and Brian doesn’t even bother shout at their son for whatever he’s done. But Jesse and Anna love Kate, they didn’t want her dead. Jesse donates his blood for Kate and Anna still acts as a spare-organ provider for Kate.

But sometimes, people who give too much will want it to stop. And the one who has one leg on the other side would like to end this suffering. And Sara, who I know just wants Kate to survive, will have to know that Anna is a living person, not livestock.

…but Sara is a mother, of course she wants both her daughters to live. I know she loves her children, but you can never love them equally. Favoritism is a thing. I may never understand, because the person I love the most is myself.

I bashed Sara too much in this post didn’t I?


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