Pros: powerful look at medical ethics
Cons: some contrivances that may result in tiny eye rolls
With advances in medical technology come new questions of medical ethics. The question of creating "designer" children is rife with controversy, but what if you design a child to save a child you already have?
::: Creating the Perfect Match :::
The premise of Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper is based on a family with a child with a rare and usually incurable form of cancer. Desperate to give their daughter a chance, Kate's parents go through IVF to create a child who matches her in the most important way possible: the specific genes necessary to make her cord blood and marrow match Kate's. From the moment of her birth, Anna has a unique place in her family, the source of donor material for Kate. From cord blood to marrow to blood products, Anna's procedures match her sister's almost one-for-one, but when her parents want one of her kidneys when she is 13, Anna hires attorney Campbell Alexander in an attempt to stop the constant harvesting.
::: Contrived, Yet Thought Provoking :::
My Sister's Keeper is told from different perspectives: Anna, Campbell her lawyer, each of her parents, her brother Jesse who creates more and more trouble in an attempt to just be noticed in his family, and the person appointed by the court to try to determine what's in Anna's best interest.
Each chapter is a different viewpoint, made more apparent by changes in typesetting and tone. It's contrived, as are several of the plot twists, including the shocking ending, and yet Picoult still draws the reader into the story, which is almost a modern take on Sophie's Choice. How far do you go to save your child? And what if going that extra distance is at the expense of another of your children?
As a parent, the story was excruciating, and not just for the ethical quandries, but for Picoult's raw look at what can happen to a family that has lived in crisis for so long that crisis is normal. There is no happy ending for this family, but you know from the first that there couldn't be; only a way for them all to learn to live with the hand they have been dealt. My Sister's Keeper is a powerful examination of medical and familial ethics, without passing judgment.