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Showing 1-6 of 6 reviews(2 star). Show all reviews
on June 2, 2004
"My Sister's Keeper" is the first novel I have read by Jodi Picoult, and it could very well be the last. The premise of the novel is so interesting: a younger sibling is genetically "designed" so that she will be an acceptable donor to her older sister, who is very ill. As the girls age, there are medical, legal and emotional choices and consequences for the whole family. The story is told from the perspective of each character in the story, which is also an interesting and insightful way to deal with the subject matter.
However, in spite of its promise in both subject matter and form, the novel does not deliver a pleasurable read or a satisfactory ending. At several points while I was reading, I thought: "Is this a soap, or this literature?" I felt like the book, which has lofty quotations which run the gamut from D.H. Lawrence to Shakespeare, has too many aspirations. The author does not let it be enough of a straight-up tug at your heartstrings family drama, and tries to endow it with more seriousness than the writing is really capable of pulling off. And the ending was just not appropriate: the reader is anticipating an ending that deals with the ethical consequences of the character's actions, and the author robs the reader of that experience. I couldn't recommend the novel on that basis alone.
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on April 7, 2004
I laughed out loud. The greatest problem with this author is that she writes to try to pull a reader's heartstrings, instead of telling a story. When the plot's as convoluted as this, that's a real problem.
Anna was born with a distinct purpose. To be a genetic donor for her sister Kate, who has a rare disease. At age thirteen, when her family schedules a kidney transplant without her consent, Anna takes them to court. Bad, unrealistic courtroom drama ensues (In a case like this, where she's basically accused of infringing upon Anna's human rights, her mother Sara shouldn't represent herself, even with a law degree), and honesty is sacrificed for more wooden metaphors.
Picoult tries too hard with said metaphors. At one point, about to testify, Anna looks at her skirt, and notices that it is unraveling a bit. 'Perhaps I will unravel the whole thing' she says. As if we couldn't tell that the unraveling skirt was a symbol of the story about to be told. Either Picoult thinks we're all idiots, or she's trying way too hard to be deep.
The story is told from multiple viewpoints; Anna, her mother, lawyers, etc. Instead of giving us everyone's feelings, it just leaves us confused. The author changes fonts to indicate another person speaking, as if that makes it easier. The result is that no character becomes truly fleshed out.
Probably my biggest gripe is the fact that Picoult chooses to go for 'heart wrenching' melodramatic metaphor over honest emotion. Honesty wins every time, but apparently the author doesn't know that. The greatest example is the big surprise at the end of the book. I can't say what happens, but it relates to a choice Anna's mother makes, and how quickly she makes that choice. Any mother put in the position Sara finds herself in would behave in a different, more human manner. But no, Picoult chooses to 'try to make us cry', which resulted in me feeling utterly disgusted and wondering if any editor stopped to consider how ridiculous and inhuman the scene was. Considering this author is praised as someone who understands human thoughts and emotions, I was shocked.
Tack on an obvious, schmaltzy ending with a very pat closing line and you've got yourself something wooden, unrealistic and seriously trying too hard. This isn't really bad writing. It's worse. It's an apparently capable writer passing on the meat of human emotions for lukewarm, metaphorically overladen erudite fluff. Very unappealing indeed.
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on April 13, 2004
The book was very absorbing (I read it in one sitting-I couldn't put it down). However, I thought there were too many voices telling the story (at least 7 characters tell the story from their perspective) and that at times they sounded too much like one another. Also, a subplot involving the main character's lawyer was a waste of pages. Finally, I felt robbed by the ending. It undermined the integrity of the central moral message of the book; the ending would be better suited to a soap opera, not a work of serious fiction.
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on December 19, 2009
This book was just alright. Very slow paced and drew away from the main story line a lot. Don't buy it, borrow it from a friend.
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on May 28, 2004
Not worth it.
This author had high recommedations, now I am not sure if I will try any of her other books.
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on April 6, 2010
This was my book club read for this month which is why I read it. While Jodie Picoult often picks very interesting and controversial topics to explore in her books, her habit of telling her stories from multiple viewpoints has become formulatic and I find them quite cumbersome to read.

That said, once I started the book, I was pleasantly surprised. As a bioethics minor in university, I found the premise underlying the story very interesting...the moral and ethical considerations regarding voluntary and/or involuntary organ donation.

About a 1/4 of the way through the book, however, my attention started to wander for a couple of reasons.
1. With the exception of Anna, the characters were quite unsympathetic.
The mother was downright dislikeable,the father: ineffective, the brother: troubled (to say the least), the lawyer: swarmy and juvenile and the guardian ad liem: juvenile and foolish.
2. The introduction of the romantic storyline was both distracting and silly.No big surprise they turned out to have been "star-crossed lovers" who found each other again. This storyline would have worked great in a Harlequin Romance but, in a novel dealing with serious matters, the preoccupation of two pivotal characters with their failed high school romance was just ridiculous.
3. Storyline about the lawyers "condition"? Ditto
4. Much too long a book...elimination of the romantic storyline would have eliminated alot of "filler" and made the book a better read.

The novel would have still been salvageable if the author had really explored the premise set out at the beginning of the book: Anna's resistance to acting as her sisters organ donor and the moral and ethical considerations involved. Since Anna is apparently acting in only her own best interests, the questions could have been this acceptable 2. can someone be COMPELLED have invasive procedures to benefit another and 3. who has the right to make those decisions. In fact, thats what most of the book appeared to be leading up to.

Unfortunately, Picoult decides to put in a "twist" that basically changes Anna from being a character making an decision regarding her own automomy despite the negative fallout (interesting and thought-provoking), to being "heroic" for her sister at her own (Anna's) expense (boring and predictable).

The only thing that saves the book is the ending, which I quite liked. It shows how random this whole 'life" thing is. After all the angst suffered by the various characters as they wrestled with issues raised in the book, the resolution was very different than anyone could have predicted.
Haven't seen the movie but I've read the ending of the movie was changed and that Picoult was not happy about that as it changes the point of the whole book.

So, I gave it two stars 1. loved the premise, didn't feel the author followed through and 2. like Picoults writing style, but found the book diluted by too many characters/storylines.

Look forward to hearing my book clubs take on it!
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