My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Saturday, July 04, 2009



By happenstance, I came across the movie trailer for Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper and it caught my interest. I was at the bookstore 2 days ago, saw it on the display counter and got a copy of the book. It took me about 8 hours to finish it.

How do I find it?

I find that the story/premise was good, the execution a pain, and at the ending, I get a wham!

From the back cover of the book: Sara Fitzgerald's daughter Kate is just two years old when she is diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. Reeling from with the helpless shock of it, Sara knows she will do anything -- whatever it takes -- to save her child. Then the test results came back time and again to show that no one in their family is a match for Kate. If they are to find a donor for the crucial bone marrow transplant needs, there is only one option: creating another baby, specifically designed to save her sister. For Sara, it seems the ideal situation. Not only does Kate live, she gets a beautiful new daughter, Anna, too. Until the moment Anna hands Sara the papers that will rock the whole world. Because, aged thirteen, Ana has decided that she doesn't want to help Kate live any more. She is suing her parents for the rights to her own body.

Now, doesn't that sound promising for a good read. Sad to say, no. It started well, and I was 4 hours into the book before it started to lose me and from them on, I have begun to speed read as I went along, just to get it going and finish it.

Picoult took the story through with each chapter taken from the first person perspective, of the main characters in the story. You have Anna, Sara, Brian (the father), Jesse (the brother), Campbell (the lawyer) and Julia (the woman, as all stories need a woman, and this woman who is the guardian ad litem, is the lawyer's old flame). I would say that it is quite a good approach to a story, if and only if, you have the skill and capability to hold your audience. She did not have that with me. And what's worse, each chapter begins with a different time frame, dislocated from the previous chapter. When I start each chapter, left just afresh from the last one, and about 5 sentences down, I would frown as I try to figure out where in the timeline of the story am I now. As it happened too often, I ended up trudging on and hoping that it will come to me as I read on.

I have never read a book so infuriating, especially when I it started so well. I cannot stand Sara, I am bored with Brian, I could not believe Julia, and Campbell sound quite hollow though I like him, except for his wisecracks about why he has a service dog, the first few was alright but it just went cheesy from there. Only Anna and Jesse were the more believable characters. And the ending was like a "WHAT???"

It is suppose to be a good story. I only wished the story was better told, and ended. This will be the first and last time I read Jodi Picoult.

And this review by Robert P. Beveridge absolutely took the words right out of my mouth:

________________________________

Oh, if she'd only stopped twenty pages before it actually ended.
October 16, 2006
By Robert P. Beveridge "xterminal"
Jodi Picoult, My Sister's Keeper (Washington Square Press, 2004)

Did you ever start off reading a book with a relatively high opinion of it, and then have that opinion spiral downward every few pages until it just bottomed out at the end? That's how I felt while reading My Sister's Keeper.

Picoult has a great hook-- a child, conceived for the purpose of keeping her leukemic older sister alive, sues her parents for medical emancipation-- and she starts out defining her characters well, giving us a stable of interesting people about whom to read. It all, however, goes downhill from there. Picoult has that rare and undesirable combination of a taste for melodrama and a fine ear for cliché, and it's so well-mixed that even the quotes she chooses at the beginnings of sections are fraught with both. (When you see Milton's long-trampled quote about darkness visible in a book, what's going to happen? Yes, you know.) At over four hundred pages, the writing style just wears you down. Then characters start to slip from three-dimensional model into two-dimensional archetype, and either Picoult's own prejudices, or her attempts to manipulate the reader, start to show through. The rise of this trait and the rise of the melodrama, not surprisingly, go hand in hand. As the characters get less and less three-dimensional, they get more grating. This is especially true in the case of Sara, the mother involved; by page three hundred, I was marveling that no other character in the novel had simply killed her in her sleep to put her out of everyone else's misery.

And then comes the ending. Holy cow, the awful, horrible, cheesy, syrupy, lowest-common-denominator, you could see it coming from so far away because it was as big as Jupiter's great red spot, Lifetime Original Movie(TM) ending. It was like a punch in the stomach to have come this far with these characters and then have the author take the path of least resistance. If you read this book, when you get to page 350 or thereabouts, stop, take a bunch of index cards, and write down all the possible ways you think this book might end. Rank them in terms of desirability. I guarantee that the end of this book will be the one you put at the absolute bottom of the stack. It's THAT bad.

I probably should have waited a few days to write this review in order to mellow over the awfulness of the ending, but the simple truth is, the book doesn't deserve any mellowing out. The author pulled a cheap shot. There's no reason the reviewer shouldn't as well. It starts out a relatively decent book. By its end, it is unbearably awful.
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pearlie

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