Thursday, March 08, 2007

My Sister's Keeper

My Sister's Keeper
by Jodi Picoult

I'm the reader in the family, I read anything from trash to literature, English, Chinese and German. Usually I'm the one picking out books for my sister to read in hopes that it would improve her command in language. But here is one book that was introduced to me by my sister. I've just finished reading it, and hell yea, that was one invoking read. The words of Jodi Picoult touched deep into my heart. Maybe it's because I'm a sister, and I'm close to my sister, or maybe it's because the both of us are healthy.

The blurb: (I think it does a better job of introducing the book that what I can come up with)

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 questioned… 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?

The story opens with Anna saving up money, even to the extent of pawning her locket for that mere $20. The writing of the plot is in such a way which makes the reader unable to predict what was to happen next. And this style isn't only in the opening chapter, as we move on more and more plots are weaved in such a way that the readers know that it's important that this happened but we are not revealled the reason. One of such that got me pondering - and I hadn't got it right - was the reason for the service dog Campbell had.

As we progress towards the end of the story, there were quite a couple of twists that even the usually the spot on reader would be able to guess correctly but failed with this story. I'm not going to reveal much about the twists because that would spoil the story. In fact, I wouldn't even recommend visiting the Wikipedia site because spoilers are rampant there. And this piece of writing won't be as touching and beautiful with the spoilers.

One thing very interesting about this piece of writing is that there isn't a single narrator. It's sort of like a diary style with different narrators for each chapter. I usually do not like this style of writing in literature because I can't really follow the different emotions and feelings and innermost thoughts of everyone at the same time, probably because I'm a person who can get very immersed in a story and such changing of narrators usually break the emotional immersion I have in the story. However, I find that the use of this as a plot vessel in this piece of writing is highly effective. One thing different about this piece of writing is that it involves a whole lot of people rather than the main character Anna herself, and the knowledge of all these people's innermost thoughts is important in understanding the whole premise of the grand scheme.

When I first read the first few chapters, and the blurb of course, my whole mind was sympathy for Anna and thought that her parents were unfeeling, biased pricks, but through reading what they've been through, and the reasons for the choices they'd made, I can understand where they are going at although I don't agree with all the choices they made.

The subplot of this story of the relationship between Anna's attorney Campbell and her guardian Julia was also one very interesting and thought provoking subplot. It all seemed so superficial in the beginning, but as the plot twisted and we are revealled the reasons behind Campbell's actions, suddenly everything fell in place. He's relationship with Julia, his willingness in accepting Anna as a client even though Anna couldn't even afford one hour of his fees he charged.

This book also made me rethink about the relationships we have. The relationships with my parents and with my sister. These is this part of the story that struck me quite hard. Everytime Sara (the mother) runs into problems, the first person she'd turn to other than her husband was her sister Zanne. Zanne became the one who looked after the kids for her in urgent need even though Zanne is a very busy career woman. And looking at Zanne's willingness and immediate reaction to these calls of help, made me appreciate even more that I know that I've a sister I can count on in times of need. It's the same for Anna, she has her brother and sister whom she knows would do all they can to help her.

Another moral issue that made me rethink was the issue of creating such lifeforms for the use of organ replacement. In the case of Anna, she was created a human, so she does have her rights. But let's look into the future, into the era of human clone for the use of organ harvesting, would the clones be given equal human rights? Wait, or even, are clones human?

This is one good novel I highly recommend. It's best to read it in one sitting with a packet of tissue.

There are talks that this would be adapted into a film. I don't know know if things would materialised, but I'm a bit jittery about the whole thing. Many good print have created horrible screen adaptations with plot alterations. If this were to be adapted, I'd really like the screen version to stick to the plot and details of the print version.

PS: I'd really like to go on more and to discuss about the details and the plot twists of this book, but I really don't wish to spoil the story because it's really really a very good read.


Anonymous said...

hmmm, i feel tempted. wonder if central library has that book.

-anonymous 2

xxoos said...

i just helped you do a linc search, and the answer is no. hehe... i ran a search for jodi picoult books too, there's one book which status is called "at binding" whatever that is, three other books are at the nus high school library. seems like novels or general fiction isn't the featuring point of nus libraries. hehe~

think can try the national library. my sister ran a search there before buying the book, they have a whole long list of jodi picoult books, but their often on loan. so i guess you'd need to make reservations or try your luck~

aikhui said...

seems like a good read.. I really wonder how do you find time to read the book when we are already swamped with readings... I am an avid reader but all these readings are putting me off to leisure read..

xxoos said...

erm... maybe cos i don't do readings so i've more time to read... hehehe~