This is a Keeper for sure

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If you are new to Jodi Picoult’s writing. My Sisters Keeper is a good place to start. It is arguably her best book. Picoult’s books follow a particular pattern- chapters which are told from different viewpoints, characters that you love to hate, major tragedy and family drama and a huge twist in the end which would be the cause of the turn of events. Published in April 2004, this book is an absolute tear jerker. But it also raises important medical ethics questions. It traces an emotional journey of a teenager who is compelled to sue her parents for a right to make her own decisions. This is a book which deals with a situation where everybody is at a loss. Picoult had undoubtedly dealt with the subject with compassion, sensitivity and an infinite amount of grace.


Anna Fitzgerald was purposely designed from her parents’ genes to provide a match for her elder sister Kate’s rare blood type. She was conceived after her elder sister was diagnosed with Leukemia. When Anna was young she had to donate her bone marrow to help with the treatment.  But that was only the beginning. Soon she had to give more marrow, blood, stem cells and now at the age of thirteen, her parents wanted her to donate her kidney.

The book leaps to the point where Anna begins to fight her parents for the right to her own body. She manages to convince a lawyer to take up her case and give her justice. The plot deals with Anna’s family struggle. Not only within the legal system but also the various emotional upheavals all of them will have to go through. Her parents fail to asses her motives as she does herself. The inner turmoil within Anna especially by being alienated by her mother breaks her to bits. At thirteen, Anna rebels against her parents in the most heart breaking way possible. It is an intricate family drama and Picoult deals with the subject with empathy to show how helpless and vulnerable people can become in the hands of their fates. There is also an underlying influence of Jessie, the eldest of the siblings who had been slightly neglected and perhaps, due to the strain of having two frequently hospitalized sisters, had become delinquent and isolated.

Interestingly Kate does not seem to voice much opinion about Anna’s choice, her refusal to give her sister a life-saving organ, which adds to the intrigue of the legal battle. The story is dealt with an observant eye and shows the various loop holes which are to be taken into account while reading the book. Picoult beautifully captures the dilemma of Kate, who is forever torn between love for her sister and herself. Who does not really have the power to choose anymore? She is neither disappointed nor angry with Anna. The complexities of the plot are very interestingly interlinked with one another.

The author has also shown a very complex relationship between Anna and her Lawyer. It is essentially one sided. Anna begins to increasingly rely upon him, but he soon gets frustrated and begins to feel like a baby sitter. He however notices the influence of her controlling mother and puts her under the vigilance of a legal guardian, which naturally strains their family relationship further. Anna’s case finally reaches the court, but her battle has only begun. Immense emotional manipulation and pathetic insecurities which the family members deal with are exposed in a heart wrenching manner, as Anna stands up for herself in a world of adults.

My Sisters Keeper is a page turner that you wouldn’t like to put down. But it is also an emotional roller coaster. It exposes the harsh realities of the world and brings you down to believing how helpless you actually are. Picoult excels in striking a chord with her readers and helping them feel what the characters go through in the book. Through Anna’s journey you realize that we don’t always have an option of choosing a right or a wrong way. That at times there are no answers to the questions we are forced to face in life. There are no bad people or good people. Everybody in the book acts according to what they think is the best thing to do at that moment. The mother, the doctor, Anna herself, everybody. There isn’t one person who could be judged for what they think is moral or ethical or even justifiable. Could we call Anna selfish for demanding a right over her own body? Or would it be feasible to call her mother demanding for wanting to save her elder daughter’s life? These are questions which are left unanswered but which stay with you for a long long time after you have finished reading the book. The book was turned into a film in the year 2009 , which became an instant hit at the box office. I would just like to say that calling it a “must read” might sound clichéd, but all of us make tons of choices everyday, you should make a choice and read this book once at least. I am sure you will not regret it.