Sunday, June 30, 2013

My Sister's Keeper: A Book Review

I have never read a Jodi Picoult book (before this one).  I know, I know.  Crazy, right??  Well, I no longer have to admit that.  I have always heard wonderful comments about Jodi Picoult’s writing and about her amazing books.  I am not really sure why I have never read one, but when a family friend recommended this author to me, I thought, “It is time to finally read one of her books!”  And I thought what better than to start with My Sister’s Keeper!  I have heard so many great reviews about this book, and I absolutely loved it!

Title: My Sister’s Keeper
Author: Jodi Picoult
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: May 18, 2004
Pages: 423
Out in Paperback?: Yes; February 1, 2005
My Rating: 5/5


Goodreads Summary:

New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult is widely acclaimed for her keen insights into the hearts and minds of real people. Now she tells the emotionally riveting story of a family torn apart by conflicting needs and a passionate love that triumphs over human weakness. 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 examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child’s life, even if that means infringing upon the rights of another? Is it worth trying to discover who you really are, if that quest makes you like yourself less? Should you follow your own heart, or let others lead you? Once again, in My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult tackles a controversial real-life subject with grace, wisdom, and sensitivity.

I felt that I developed a love/hate relationship with each of these characters.  With the mother Sara, I loved her determination and the immense love she showed for her children, but I also hated how she treated her husband as well as Anna at times and how she seemed to forget about Jesse, the girls’ older brother.  I loved Anna’s determination and the way she fought for herself and what she believed to be right (which would take tremendous courage at her young age); however, I was frustrated at her wish-washy ways when deciding about pursuing the trial or not.  Most of all, Jesse frustrated me as his actions were destructive and harmful.  But I couldn’t help but just feel bad for Jesse at the end of his chapters, as he is neither the child with cancer nor the child helping the child with cancer so he seems to be ignored.  I honestly do not have any idea as to how I would deal with this situation, and as Sara mentions in the novel, there really is no correct answer; she is simply doing the best she can, as a mother, which I believe is commendable.

Unfortunately for me, I read this book while I was reading other books as well.  Not at all because this book didn’t interest me, but I was just in the middle of The Hunger Games series.  Need I say more?  I had just finished Catching Fire and while I was awaiting my Amazon shipment that contained Mockingjay, I thought I would start this book.  I was immediately sucked in and fascinated by the storyline.  However, when Mockingjay arrived, I got sucked into that book too (the joys of several books pulling you in different directions)!  Immediately following Mockingjay, I fought my post-Hunger Games blues and picked this book up, and once again, I was suck into the plot.  I thought that this storyline was so unique!  I have never read anything like this book, which I loved.  The family dynamics described throughout the novel accurately depicted the situation, and I felt as though I could feel a little bit of the hurt and hope that the family was going through as described by Picoult.  The ending of the book (no spoilers … I promise) was fantastic!  If you have read the book, then you might be questioning why I am saying that.  But I love books that have a surprising ending, something that you didn’t see coming, which I did not see this ending coming at all!  The irony of the whole situation blew my mind, and I was completely shock, but this made my really think about the big message that this novel conveys to the readers about planning and life.

Writing Style:
I absolutely LOVED the writing style of this book!  Picoult switched each chapter between several of the main characters, like Anna, Sara, Brian, Campbell, Julia, and Jesse.  I thought it was very unique that each of these characters point-of-views had a specific font that was dedicated to their chapter.  This book also switched back and forth between the past and the present, which I loved as well.  A flashback from Sara’s perspective of when Kate was first diagnosed with leukemia allowed the reader to get the background story as well as venture through each of the characters’ thoughts and feeling with each chapter change.  As much as I loved the changing perspectives, which is very important in showing the impact on all the members of the family, I also loved Picoult’s style of writing, which I found to contain several metaphors and similes.  For example: “The door to the ambulatory operating suite yawns open into a small room packed with gleaming silver instruments – a mouth gilded with braces” (pg. 231); “We’d lie awake in bed feeling guilt press down like an extra quilt…” (pg. 237; “…when you stepped on [the skateboard] in your sneakers, [it] made the sound of a rock star clearing his throat” (pg. 244); “It was a night wrapped in clouds; even the moon seemed covered with cotton” (pg. 255).  These metaphors and similes provide amazing description throughout the novel.  At times, these descriptions begin a chapter or new paragraph, leaving you wondering how it connects to the larger story; Picoult always finds a brilliant way to relate it to the matter at hand.  My absolute favorite quote comes from the character Anna, who is describing the interworking of the Earth, Moon, and stars.  I adore the creation of this story, and immediately after reading it, I put the book down to reflect upon it, thinking how beautifully the story was and how it reflected on Anna’s character.

Movie Review:
While I was in the middle of reading this book, I saw on this movie playing on TV and immediately set it up to record on my DVR.  A few days after finishing the book, I decided to watch the movie.  First of all, I was very surprised to LOVE Cameron Diaz’s performance in the movie; I thought she conveyed the motherly emotion perfectly.  Personally, I had pictured the two daughters differently in my mind and took a little while to accept them as I watched the movie.  The actor playing Jesse seemed extremely young as compared to the book thus many of the things he does in the book were not a part of the movie.  Now, the plot.  I totally understand that any movie cannot accurately portray a book, scene for scene, or else the movie would be EXTREMELY long.  However, the several plot points from the book were completely left out (or added in … ? ... like the prom scene).  The character Julia and her storyline with Campbell was not addressed at all, Jesse’s devious actions were not a part of the movie, and Kate ends up actually going to the prom with Taylor.  That last one was added in, which I find very unusual as mostly things are simply taken out of the plot.  As for the ending, the book and the movie could NOT have been more different.  Now, I LOVED the book ending, so the movie ending deviating from that was a big disappointment.  Overall, I didn’t think the movie was that spectacular at all, and if you loved the book, just the way it is, then I don’t believe you would be missing out at all if you didn’t see the movie as it doesn’t accurately bring the story to life.

Have you read this book? What did you think? If you've seen the movie, what did you think of that?  Since, I really enjoyed this book, I plan to read more Jodi Picoult books.  Do you have any recommendations?

FTC Disclaimer:
All items mentioned were purchased by me.  This is not a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.  No affiliate links were used.


  1. I liked this book, but personally found the changing POV's annoying. I also didn't like the subplot with Julia and Campbell all that much because it seemed to detract from the main plotline. I wished they included more of Kate in the story; it felt like even though she was the main topic/problem of the story she took back stage. Other then that though, the book was great! The ending made me cry :( but I have to confess I really liked it. :) Thanks for reviewing this book.

    Personal Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    1. I do agree that it would have been nice to hear a little more from Kate. Have you read any other Picoult books that you would recommend?