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My Sister's Keeper
Jodi Picoult

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My Sister's Keeper

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My Sister's Keeper
By Jodi Picoult
Atria Large Print, (2004)
ISBN: 0-7434-8619-6
Genre: Fiction

Reviewed by Laura Hortz Stanton - August 8, 2006

If you take public transportation to work or like to read in public places (your local Starbucks or park) don't pick this book; it will make you look like an idiot. On page 33 I started to tear up on my subway ride to work and had to put the book away. Whether this is a testament to the vivid and thoughtful writing of the author or my mushy girly side I'll leave you to decide.

My Sister's Keeper centers around two sisters, Anna and Kate Fitzgerald. Kate was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia when she was two years old. When Kate's parents, Sara and Brian, were told that their son Jesse was not a genetic match and therefore could not donate the necessary blood cells to his sister, they decided to have another child in hopes that it would be a match. Sara and Brian met with a geneticist and had an embryo implanted that was sure to be a perfect genetic match for Kate. The Fitzgeralds place all of their hopes for saving their existing daughter on their new baby, Anna..

>From the moment she was born Anna's life has been altered in hopes of saving the life of her sister. When Anna was born, the umbilical cord blood was collected for Kate, when Kate got sick again Anna's blood was drawn, when Kate needed bone marrow Anna's was extracted. At age thirteen when she is told by her mother that she will donate one of her kidneys to her sister, Anna decides that she no longer wants to be the donor for her sister. Anna hires a lawyer, Campbell Alexander, to petition for her medical emancipation from her parents. Campbell takes on the case pro bono in order to further is own legal career, with little regard for Anna's motivation or feelings. It is at this point where My Sister's Keeper opens.

Anna's story is told through multiple perspectives. The chapters in the novel are written from the perspective of various characters. Anna leads the reader through her adolescent thoughts and feelings; Jesse lets you know what it's like to be the forgotten brother in the family; Sara gives you insight into the angst that any mother must feel making these decisions; Brian, the father and a firefighter is the stoic backbone to the family; Campbell is the sometimes despicable lawyer; and Julia is the guardian ad lietem assigned to the case who gives an outsider's view of the family. All of these characters pull the reader emotionally in various directions. On one page your sympathies will lie with Anna who no longer wants to be used like a lab rat and on the very next page you will find yourself crying over Sara's anguish.

Jodi Picoult has crafted a novel that gives the reader a unique perspective on medical ethics and family dynamics. It is a story that, one quickly realizes, could easily be reality, given today's scientific advancements. The book can be read quickly but is still thought provoking and heart wrenching and well worth the time it takes to read.

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