by Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D.
When I taught Child Development in a Learning Community with an English teacher, all the reading was based on child development content. The fiction book we selected was My Sister’s Keeper.
The story begins with a couple’s decision to genetically engineer a baby to become a bone marrow match for the two-year-old sister Kate’s leukemia. Although the book actually covers two weeks, with flashbacks, the reader gains a fuller picture of the three siblings’ child and adolescent years.
Author Jodi Picoult is known for taking real life controversial issues and presenting multiple views from various characters. How far would you go to save your child’s life? Picoult weaves the view of the father, mother, oldest brother, sister Anna, sister Kate, Cambell (Anna’s pro bono attorney), and Julia (Anna’s guardian ad item) in this emotionally riveting book.
Life as a “Designer Baby”
Since Anna’s arrival as a “designer baby,” she’s had countless medical procedures to save her sister’s life. At thirteen, when Anna’s parents plan for her kidney donation, Anna makes a decision to sue her parents for the rights to her own body.
Movie Not the Same
If you’ve seen the movie released in June 2009 and haven’t read the book, be prepared. The movie doesn’t entirely follow the book. The 423 page book is far more emotionally gripping. The author takes readers on a distressing roller coaster ride. As with all good roller coaster rides, there’s an unexpected twist at the end.
Food for Thought
This book is a tear jerker but gives such a concise picture of the struggles each family member deals with when a child is seriously ill. This book raises questions about medical ethics, family conflict, and the power of love. The book includes a Q & A section with the author and questions for discussion. When you read the book, you’ll want to discuss it with someone.
Book Information: My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult, Washington Square Press, 2004. This book is available through Amazon.com. Paperback $12.67; Kindle $10.38; Hardcover $19.48; Audio CD $25.64.