Thursday, September 22, 2005
I scoffed when my sister called me and recommended that I read "My Sister's Keeper." I told her that I don't read sappy chick books, especially ones that deal with sisters.
It's not that I don't like reading about sisters. Rather, it's because that whenever I do read about them, all I do is cry.
About a decade ago, I bought a book called "Sisters" for my sister, Brittany -- my favorite person in the world. I inscribed it with a message that summed up how I felt about her. She cried and cried when she read it.
A few months ago, she bought the same book for me and inscribed it with a message of her own. I cried and cried when I read it. She beat me at my own game.
And that's why I don't read sisters books; they hit too close to home.
However, after she told me about reading "My Sister's Keeper" on a plane and literally crying on a random man's shoulder, I decided to give it a whirl. If it touched her, it certainly would resonate with me.
It is a story about love and loss and learning the tough life lessons that help shape us.
The story follows a girl named Anna and her complex suburban family. Anna's older sister, Kate, has a rare form of leukemia that has crippled the family's emotional resources since Kate was a baby. Her older brother, Jesse, has lived with Kate's illness his whole life and eventually decided it is better that he live his life as if he isn't part of the family.
Anna struggles daily with her role in the family because she knows she was brought into this world only to save her sick sister.
Her parents, a firefighter and an ex-attorney, realized that to save Kate's life, they would have to create another one.
It was during the early 1990s that the family decided to genetically create another child in hopes of using her DNA to save Kate.
Anna resents that she has been poked, prodded and extracted from more times than Kate, and she finally decides to do something about it by hiring a lawyer to emancipate her from the family.
The book raises a number of ethical issues that cloud the decisions Anna makes -- by emancipating herself from her family and refusing to give Kate her blood, bone marrow and kidneys, she seals her sister's fate.
All the while, Anna knows that Kate is her only friend, and she continues to crawl into the hospital bed with her to comfort them both.
The novel is told from the unique perspectives of every character involved in the story, including the children, the attorneys and the parents, who are torn between loving and supporting their children.
This is a must read for those of us with sisters. Even if she isn't your best friend or even a friend at all, the questions raised in this book are ones that force you to think about how far you would go for family.