My Sister's Keeper
by Jodi Picoult


Washington Square Press; Mti edition, 2004. ISBN 978-1-439-15738-1.
Reviewed by Cheri Rosenberg
Posted on 07/07/2009

Fiction: Mainstream

My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult, is a heart-rending family saga. The story revolves around a moral dilemma: is it ethical to conceive one child for the sole purpose of saving another? Gravely ill, Kate was a toddler when she was diagnosed with a progressive form of leukemia. In a last ditch effort to save their beloved child, Sara and Brian Fitzgerald conceive a biologically engineered daughter for her umbilical cord, tissues, blood, and ultimately an organ. Anna literally becomes her sister's keeper for as long as she's alive. When it comes to donating her kidney to her dying sister, Anna seeks legal representation for the freedom to make her own medical decisions. Anna's courage holds the family together while at the same time tearing them apart.

Best-selling author Picoult formulates entire stories based on current issues and successfully weaves tales that explore both sides of an argument. Society now has the ability to tamper with genetics, to experiment on human subjects in the name of science and medicine, but does that mean it is permissible, ethical, and in humanity's best interests? My Sister's Keeper serves to clarify as much as confuse because there aren't clear-cut right or wrong answers when love and emotion collide with rational judgment. It comes down to what role love plays in making tough decisions. Who has the final say over a minor's destiny? Should an adolescent be granted permission to make a potentially life and death decision, or should her parents be ultimately responsible?

Picoult presents worst-case scenarios of both the patient, Kate, and the donor, Anna. She uses crisp and witty dialogue to reveal the path each girl has chosen and gives readers insight from a teen's perspective, complete with all the sibling rivalry and closeness two sisters can share. From the opening pages, the author grips the reader's heart and doesn't let go. We see the mental and emotional anguish inside the adults who play key roles in these two children's lives. Picoult provides multiple first-person points of view, which give glimpses into the entire family's well-being and affirms the intense love of parent for child and sibling for sibling. She deftly reveals the impact that lawyers, doctors, judges, other family members, and friends have on the entire family unit.

Read My Sister's Keeper and discover the many, many ways in which Picoult illuminates everyday experiences and, by her craft as an author, lifts them from the mundane to the extraordinary. While one's heart aches, one's spirit is enriched from living life through another's eyes. Picoult is a master at giving us such glimpses.


Jodi Picoult is the bestselling author of the following novels: Songs of the Humpback Whale (1992), Harvesting the Heart (1994), Picture Perfect (1995), Mercy (1996), The Pact (1998), Keeping Faith (1999), Plain Truth (2000), Salem Falls (2001), Perfect Match (2002), Second Glance (2003), My Sister's Keeper (2004), Vanishing Acts (2005), The Tenth Circle (2006), Nineteen Minutes (2007). In 2003 she was awarded the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction. Visit the author's website.

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