Book Review: My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

This is the book’s description from Goodreads:

“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.”

From the opening of the book I was hooked and had a difficult time putting it down, although at times it was difficult to read because of all of the physical and emotional suffering experienced by the characters. After reading the prologue, I had that feeling I get when I begin a book or movie and know instantly that I’m going to love it – it always sends a tickle down my spine and sometimes brings tears to my eyes. And this book did not let me down.

In spite of the many difficult medical terms, the book was an easy read, and I didn’t want to miss one word of its beautifully written prose. When I say easy, I mean mentally, but not emotionally. It was a tearjerker early on.

The characters, who each told the story from their own viewpoint, were painfully human. I liked that the story was written from all of the main character’s viewpoints, which made for a more well-rounded story. Everything that happens to us, everything we do, is seen much differently by others. Although I could usually tell which character I was reading simply by their voices, there were a couple of times that characters sounded too much alike and I had to look back and see who was speaking. Otherwise, the various points of view were artfully done. At times, the teenagers seemed to speak too eloquently, at least compared to the teenagers I know, and it reminded me that these weren’t characters speaking, but an author writing a story. But mostly I was lost in this story’s world.

This book contained a couple of twists that took my breath away. They were so perfectly orchestrated as part of the plot that I didn’t see them coming. There was a lot of backstory, as the author brought us from the time of the onset of Kate’s illness through where we’d leave off with these characters years later, but it wasn’t an information dump. The story moves between different times and viewpoints seamlessly.

This book made me FEEL, which is what I must have from a book or movie to like it. In fact, in spite of the horror these characters were going through, it made me feel that I had missed out, not having had children myself. The love between the characters was palpable, and I felt that I didn’t experience all of the love I could have since I didn’t have children – both love given and love received. So the book made me think too, and made me relate my story to the character’s stories, something else that makes me like a book. It made me examine my life.

I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for adults and young adults.

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