Beloved child, youngest of three, cherished sister, and of course, a product of genetic manipulation. Anna was born to save her sister. A perfect match since she was born, Anna has helped keep her sister Kate alive from the grips of leukemia. But this time, they need a kidney and Anna is ready to sue her own family for medical emancipation.
My summary doesn't really do the book justice because the books is less about the plot and more about the emotions of the characters. This book has been sitting on the edge of my reading horizon for a while, but I didn't really pick it up because it's fiction writing (not genre writing like scifi or fantasy or paranormal, etc). Fiction literature completely depends on the characters, which is a gamble because most writers can't seem to get it just right.
I hesitate to say that Picoult gets it "just right" in My Sister's Keeper, but it's pretty close.
There are many moments that feel untrue to the story - as if Picoult sets up the scene just for a character to say something particularly cutting or deep and poignant (e.g. What is four letter word for vessel?)
Plot lines don't feel completely resolved either. Characters seem to change without much impetus, to be honest. Her mother changes from someone who doesn't even seem to notice Anna at the beginning to someone who appears to care, even in the past from how she talked about how much she loved Anna in her 13 years. But... huh? Evidence obvious contradicts that.
Jesse changes with a single gesture from his father. That whole firefighting plotline just disappeared without a single impact on the greater scheme of things - as if Picoult just wanted to make sure the middle child wasn't left out. And to give the father more screen time.
Campbell felt a little fake. There isn't enough interaction to tell us how he and Anna got close enough that he would praise her and accept the end result of the trial.
The biggest reveal of the whole trial and Anna's motivation was... very much like oh here's the climax, of course. Rather than a big gasp that made me go holy goodness what the freaking heck? It felt contrived.
That's the thing that makes me pause from seriously giving this a high rating. Situations and scenes feel contrived. Obviously it's fiction, so of course it's contrived. But I shouldn't be able to notice it so many times as a reader.
All of that being said... I actually cried during this book. Although I nitpick about contrived situations, Picoult does have a gift for making these characters very sympathetic, very real. The changes in point of view weren't jarring at all, which is surprising because most writers can't handle switching between characters. But instead, they lead to greater insight and even more sympathy for all characters.
You just sympathize with all of their struggles. However small or large, the characters seriously grow on you. You can picture these people, feel like you know them. And cry with them.
Three and a half stars rounded up to four because it made me cry. It was definitely above average, had beautiful characterization, and was just overall lovely. A lovely surprise from outside my usual genres. It's not higher because I won't reread it - and also it doesn't leave me with anything different or new. Does my understanding of decisions and family problems change? Hm, not really. It just leaves me with a sense of ah, I'm glad I read this book. It was lovely like a scent you close your eyes to smell because it reminds you of something beautiful.
Highly recommended for those who want a book to make you feel a little emotional.