Sunday, April 26, 2015

My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult (author), with full cast narration

Recorded Books, April 2004 (original publication January 2004)

Brian and Sara Fitzgerald thought they had a complete and perfect family when their second child, daughter Kate, was born. Then at two, Kate is diagnosed with leukemia, and life changes, completely. Treatment can stabilize Kate for a while, but remissions turn into relapses. And none of them, not Sara, not Brian, and not son Jesse, is a close enough match for the donations, including bone marrow, Kate will need for any hope of a cure.

Sara and Brian take a gamble, at the limits of medical science and on the edges of medical ethics.  They use in vitro fertilization to conceive another daughter, who will be the closest possible genetic match for Kate.

Thirteen years later, Anna Fiztgerald files a lawsuit seeking medical emancipation from her parents.

This is an emotionally complicated tale. Anna loves her sister Kate. Sara and Brian love all their children. Jesse loves both his sisters and would give anything to be able to donate what Kate needs to live. Kate loves her whole family, and can't escape from being the neediest member of the family, in need of everyone's support, but especially Anna's vital medical donations. Sara and Brian have a strong and loving relationship, but they're not always in agreement on what's best for their daughters.

The story is told in the voices of each character, each of the Fitzgeralds, Anna's lawyer Campbell Alexander, and the guardian ad litem appointed by the court, Julia Romano. What we learn in these interwoven voices is that everyone in the family is struggling with guilt--over what they are doing, what they can't do, and over their complex feelings about those choices, failures, and the circumstances. It's Sara who gives us most of the history. Brian and Jesse in their different ways provide context, and it's Anna's choices and feelings that are driving the events of the story--or so it appears.

Campbell and Julia have their own complicated personal history, and for each of them it affects how they respond to Anna, the Fitzgerald family, and the moral and ethical conundrum at the core of the family struggle.

Picoult gives us a beautifully textured story, with good people in painful conflict as they all try to do the right thing as far as they can understand it. You won't like all characters equally, but you will sympathize with all of them.

Highly recommended.

I bought this book.