My Sister’s Keeper got picked up to become a movie before I even knew it was a book. I’ve never read a Jodi Picoult novel, though her books are my girlfriend’s sister’s favorites. I didn’t know what to think of her; at times, I feel like she just writes a lot of romance novels.
But my opinion changes with my reading of Keeper, an finely crafted book about a family’s fight to save their daughter Kate from the leukemia she has suffered from through most of her life. Her sister, Anna, is a perfect donor match for Kate because she was biologically engineered to be one – all of Anna’s life has been devoted to giving lymphocytes or bone marrow to Kate, making her life just as hectic. Now, Kate’s kidneys are failing and she needs Anna to donate one, but Anna wants to be her own person. Told through each character’s own point of view, we are presented with the subsequent court battle over morals and ethics, of who and when has the right to their own medical choices, but also a mental battle of what is right for Kate.
Rarely in this novel is there a moment without emotion; Picoult’s words are crafted so delicately and precise that each character feels fresh and different as we switch between them. Humor, sadness, anger: all come together to blend into a scenario that is so unique and shocking that the dispute between the family feels close to home.
Reality, though, is always just a step away for Picoult’s book. The characters progress just as people would, growing with their experiences and being moved by those around them. People will find favorites to befriend here; it’s human nature, especially since these characters are so three-dimensional. But what stands out as a touch of unfortunate realism is the ending, which I will not divulge here. A bit coincidental, perhaps, but for those who know the ending of the story, the quick way in which the event happens is so much like life – life does not catch up with us, we catch up with life.
Emotionally moving and fantastically searing, My Sister’s Keeper is written with finesse and wit. Picoult always ends with an emotional line, some unforgettable. Her prose moves quickly while maintaining that psychic weight. We are carried along on a tide of writing, barely wondering about what’s coming next as we are so caught in the moment – almost as if Picoult meant us to be, mimicking how Anna and her family are ferried along by Kate’s sickness.