Imagine your healthy toddler is suddenly struck down with a life threatening illness. Imagine no one in your family is able to provide her with the help she needs to fight this illness…no one living that is. As a toddler Kate is diagnosed with leukaemia and after multiple tests the doctors deliver the devastating news that none of Kate’s relatives are a genetic match and their only hope is the donor register. Or having a child who is a genetic match for Kate. And so Anna is born. From the moment Anna is brought into this world she helps her sister, from the umbilical chord that helps Kate fight the cancer to blood transfusions and bone marrow, all of which helps prolong Kate’s life. It is only when Anna is asked to donate a kidney at the age of thirteen that she hires a lawyer and applies for medical emancipation; the right to make her own decisions about her body. It is a novel that explores how far parents will go to save their child and the impact such a devastating illness can have on a family.
My Sister’s Keeper is a novel/film that has been on my radar for a while, but I have never really felt any inclination to read it, having dismissed it as too depressing and sentimental for my liking. However having used the trailer-alongside the trailer for The Fault in Our Stars– to explore the idea of ‘sick-lit’ and the positives and negatives of this type of literature and having seen the beginning of the film in class, I decided to give it a go. This is not a book I have ever had any intention of reading, but I’m pretty glad that I did. I am also happy that I have managed to avoid the film for the last few years, especially as it is often on telly.
My Sister’s Keeper is told from a variety of perspectives: Anna’s, her brother’s, her parents’, her lawyer and the woman appointed as her guardian during the court case. As I have mentioned when discussing previous reads with this type of narrative style, I really enjoy multiple narratives and the insight into different characters’ thoughts and feelings it offers. It made My Sister’s Keeper more of a moral dilemma as just when you are beginning to agree with one character, you start to understand how a different character feels and think maybe they are in the right. It certainly tackles with a horrible moral and ethical dilemma; should we be allowed to genetically create babies in order to help those who are suffering with terminal or life threatening illnesses? There is no easy right or wrong answer to this question and all I know is it is one I hope never to have to face. However this wasn’t the part of the novel I found most shocking/unexpected. It was the ending. I certainly don’t want to give away any spoilers, especially as I managed to avoid any during the whole time I have referred to this novel in teaching, so I shall say no more. If you have read My Sister’s Keeper I am sure you can guess exactly what I am talking about.
My Sister’s Keeper does not count towards any of my challenges, mainly because it was a novel I just randomly picked up because I felt in the mood to read it. I feel I have been doing this a lot more in recent months and choosing books I might previously have let pass me by. I can only see this as a good thing and as long as I am reading I am happy.