“My Sister’s Keeper” Is A Keeper

A little while ago, my mom told me I should read “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult. The next day, what do I see but that very book. I figured it was a sign and read it…and it definitely was a good book.

Remember back when I wrote about saviour siblings? This book is all about that, from the perspective of just such a kid.

Imagine this scenario. There is a family that seems to have it all. They’re a mom, a dad, and two kids. Then, the little girl gets a horrible form of cancer, and needs very special cells that no living member of the family can provide. The mom figures out that if they see a geneticist and build just such a baby, they could use the umbillical cord blood to save their little girl…and so, their third child is born.

But because cancer is a bitch, soon the sick little girl needs more cells, cells that the third child can provide. For years, the third child always has to be available to donate cells, tissues, and when she is 13 years old, she is asked for a kidney, and it’s just too much. She decides to sue her parents for the right to her own body.

This is another one of those books that is written so well that the family seems very real. After I finished reading it, I would catch myself wondering how a given character was doing, and then slap myself. Yup, I’m an idiot. It’s a book. But the characters felt so real, and were so truly complicated that I cried in spots and they felt like actual people with independent thought. Somehow, Picoult mastered the art of making you truly grasp where each character was coming from. Sometimes you hated them for their opinion, sometimes you loved them for it, but by the end, you got it.

I thought it was interesting that she threw in a character with a service dog. What made it even cooler was that she picked someone with an invisible disability, so you got to see how much harassment people with invisible disabilities get who have service animals. I don’t blame people for asking questions, but some people can just be, well, jerks about it. I love the constant refrain of “You don’t look blind.” that Campbell Alexander gets wherever he goes with his dog. But, um, she could have done a wee touch more research about service animals before having characters feed the pooch plates of pasta and coke. If there’s anything that screams “pet,” it’s feeding the thing scraps. And…coke? Are you mad? Who in their right mind feeds an animal coke?

The one thing I could have done without was the stupid romance between the woman who was assigned as the child’s advocate and the child’s attorney. That was just sixteen zillion kinds of wrong. I’m sure it was meant to lighten the mood, but the whole time the two of them were having long walks on the beach and sunset sails, or fighting about how they handled things in the past, all I could think was “You guys are such shallow toolchests! We have a kid going beep beep beep in the hospital and another one who’s pleading to not have her kidney taken from her, and you guys are locking eyes? This is so unethical and so enraging that it’s not funny! I don’t care I don’t care I don’t care!” It did nothing to advance the plot, except make me hate both the lawyer and the advocate chick. The lawyer came through and redeemed himself…I’m not sure if I was impressed with the advocate chick at all.

I seem to be the last person on the planet who read this book. Everybody I’ve mentioned it to says they’ve read it. Wow. Well, I’m glad I finally did. Thanks, mom, for getting me to find it.

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