Allen and Unwin (Australia), 423 pages
“When I was little, the great mystery to me wasn’t how babies were made, but WHY.”
13-year old Anna Fitzgerald questions her existence because she was brought to the world (concieved through IVF) for only one purpose: to keep her older sister, Kate, alive.
When she was 2 years old, Kate was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia and could only be kept alive through a blood/bone marrow/organ donor whose genetic makeup is exactly as hers. Unfortunately at that time, not her mother, father, or older brother fit in the profile. So her parents, Brian and Sara Fitzgerald desperately had another genetically engineered baby in order to keep their eldest daughter.
And that’s how Anna’s life has come to be–the moment she was born, blood was extracted from her umbilical cord and given to her sister. Although perfectly normal, she’s been going in and out of the hospital for invasive surgeries that will help sustain her sister.
Although she loves her sister dearly, Anna also wants complete independence and ownership of her body. The book begins when she makes a decision that rattles her already quite dysfunctional family: she hires a lawyer to get medical emancipation from her family.
I like how this book has a very morally controversial topic. On first overview, it seems completely wrong (i still believe it is) to have a child for the wrong reasons. Or have a child just to save another one. If it’s just a one-off thing, sure it is justifiable. But to bound a child throughout her life to just being another child’s sustainance is just unfair.
As Sara Fitzgerald explains:
“[if a] building was on fire, and one of my children was in it–and the only opportunity to save her was to send in my other child, because she was the only one who knew the way. Did I know I was taking a risk? Of course. Did I realize it meant maybe losing both of them? Yes. Did I understand that maybe it wasn’t fair to ask her to do it? Absolutely. But I also knew that it was the only chance I had to keep both of them. Was it legal? Was it moral? Was it crazy or foolish or cruel? I don’t know. But I do know it was right.”
A story such as this just has to dramatic–and it is indeed full of emotions, recollections and thoughts–told in all characters’ point of view. For a time I thought I was going to hit a dragging mode but it quickly picked up and had a momentous (climatic hollywood) ending.
I didn’t quite like: Campbell Alexander and Julia Romano’s subplot romance–which acts as a romantic/comedic relief to the novel. It’s just abit..out of place and ho-hum cliche.
The characters’ lines are all worth quoting. Each speaking part (especially Kate’s and Anna’s) has that ooomph-that’s-deep effect. Making Anna such a sarcastically witty character makes the dialogues very movie-ish. It was almost like reading an award winning screenplay unfold.
(AND LO AND BEHOLD) Fresh from Wikipedia:
There are plans by New Line Cinema to turn My Sister’s Keeper into a feature film, to be released sometime in 2008. Nick Cassavetes is attached to direct it. It will star Cameron Diaz as Sara and Alec Baldwin as Campbell. Dakota and Elle Fanning were originally set to play the sisters but Dakota changed her mind when she found out she would have to shave her head to play the leukemia-suffering character of Kate. Elle dropped out along with her sister, and they were replaced with Sofia Vassilieva and Abigail Breslin.
Dakota and Elle Fanning would have been perfect for the roles. But Cameron Diaz?? Come on…the girl can’t do drama. I was thinking more of Toni Colette. SHE would be perfect. A torn, distraught mother but determined to keep her daughter alive.