Review of My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Review of My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi PicoultMy Sister\'s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Also by this author: Leaving Time
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2004-04-06
Genres: Fiction, Literary
Pages: 432
Format: Hardcover
Source: Trade
Buy on Amazon

New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult is widely acclaimed for her keen insights into the hearts and minds of real people. Now she tells the emotionally riveting story of a family torn apart by conflicting needs and a passionate love that triumphs over human weakness. Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate -- a life and a role that she has never challenged...until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister -- and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves. My Sister's Keeper examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child's life, even if that means infringing upon the rights of another? Is it worth trying to discover who you really are, if that quest makes you like yourself less? Should you follow your own heart, or let others lead you? Once again, in My Sister's Keeper, Jodi Picoult tackles a controversial real-life subject with grace, wisdom, and sensitivity.

I love me some melodrama, absolutely love it. Especially when the melodrama results in gasps, and anger, and tears. My jury is still out on My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. The plot of My Sister’s Keeper had such huge potential. We’ve got a 13 year old girl, Anna,  who is basically born as spare parts for her sister, Kate, who has leukemia. Well, Anna does not enjoy being harvested, so she initiates a lawsuit to be medically emancipated from her parents so she won’t be obligated to be spare parts anymore.

Oh, and there’s a lot of subplots in My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, some which added to the story, some which I questioned the purpose. Anna’s lawyer, Campbell has his own subplot where he romances a social worker and has a service dog. While I like dogs, I felt the plot revolving around the dog was a waste of pages, detracting from the main issue. Oh, and for the other subplot, there is Anna’s father Brian and her pain in the ass brother, Jesse. Brian fights fires, Jesse starts them. Yes, requisite eye roll goes here. Again, the character of Jesse could have been developed beyond his acting out, but really, his parts had me bored.

Anna was the only character I really cared about in My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. Some of her narration had me reduced to a blubbering mess, however, this means nothing as I also tear up over jewelry commercials, hallmark commercials, and many other sentimental things. I think Anna’s voice was the most developed, she felt the most real, albeit she felt more adult than the adult characters. Go figure. I felt the other points-of-view included were flat. For example here’s Campbell’s plot line “Hey mister why do you have puppy?” “It’s not a puppy, it’s a service dog” “What’s wrong with you?” “Insert witty one-liner pertaining to a disability here.” It was funny the first two times, but after that just became drawn out.

Anna’s mother was a horrible parent. “She’s all pity me, pity me I hate my other kids, leukemia kid is the only one who matters.” Also, you know how My Sister’s Keeper centers around Anna’s trial? Well, Anna’s mother is a former lawyer so she chooses to represent herself. I may not be a lawyer in real life, but I watch Law & Order, I took a Constitutional Law class, and hah, I can’t believe how horrible of a lawyer she was. Instead of being relevant while questioning witnesses she launches into these irritating stories about her family. And obviously the other lawyer should have objected on the grounds of relevance, but no we get to hear her reminisce with her husband, instead of, yah know, working on the case and using the law/spirit of the law to prove her point.

Jodi Picoult’s writing isn’t too terrible. I think some of it was complete cliched (Brian/Jesse subplot I am looking at you!). But, I finished My Sister’s Keeper in two days and did cry a few times while reading it. Granted, I do feel as though my emotions were manipulated. Speaking of manipulation, let me talk about the ending, by dancing around some spoilers. Okay, the end made me want to chuck My Sister’s Keeper across the room, despite my bawling all the way through it. The book builds up to this one thing, keeps building around Anna’s choice. Then, agh, the end what a huge cop out. Seriously without a doubt the worst ending I have ever read. I know many will disagree with me, which is fine, we don’t need to love/hate the same books. Honestly, though, I thought the ending was just like on a tv show where all this stuff happens to the main character, and you find out it was just a dream, which to me is taking the easy way out. I promptly had to complain to my boyfriend afterward. Yes, yes, it’s super mature to complain about a fictional book, but agh, I just invested so much time and emotions into the characters, and for it to end that way was a huge let down.

I know so many people love Picoult’s books and I can understand. They do make you think. They are fast reads and quite action-packed. However, I’m not sure that I am a fan. I strongly disliked Mercy (another of her books), but didn’t want to give up on her books, so gave My Sister’s Keeper a chance. While I did enjoy My Sister’s Keeper much more than Mercy, it still pissed me off. I’m still not ready to give up on Picoult as a writer, but I just don’t get the mass appeal. This isn’t me being a book snob, I want to like her books, as my sister really enjoys them, so it’d be nice to have that in common with her, but I just can’t make myself love them.

Other reviews of My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult:

BAM Book Reviews
Nomad Reader
The Electrical Book Cafe
Lost In Books
The Page Flipper
Books I Done Read

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Great review! You made me chuckle a few times, knowing what you mean about the ending pissing you off. I've hemmed and hawed about reading this one but it's still down there at the bottom of my list. Thanks for the honest (& humorous) opinion 🙂

  2. robby (once upon a book blog/fourteen years) says

    I understand how this book could annoy you. I am one of those insane Jodi Picoult fans. I have red all of her books, met her three times (and am going to meet her a fourth this March!) 😀
    The main thing I love about her writing is how realistic it is, even if it's annoying and frustrating.
    Jodi Picoult will always have a place in my heart.

  3. I really liked My Sister's Keeper. It is currently my favorite of Jodi Picoult's books. I guess I can understand how the ending would infuriate you, but I felt it was more effective since it was so unexpected. I'm glad you haven't given up on her though. 🙂

  4. I definitely respect those who enjoy Picoult's writing. My sister is a HUGE fan and she's definitely one of the most awesome people I know, so when she urges me to read something I want to like it. Maybe my expectations were too high.

    Robby, how awesome you got to meet one of your favorite authors! I'd love to meet one of my favorites. I wish Picoult was my cup of tea, I really do!

    Titiana, I hope the next Picoult I read doesn't leave such a bad taste in my mouth!

    Jackie, glad I can crack you up! 🙂

  5. nomadreader says

    I think I liked it so much partly because it was the first Picoult I read. I read Handle with Care after and didn't really care for it because it was so similar, which almost makes me rethink My Sister's Keeper. I do remember not liking the mother's narrative and wishing she had the opportunity to have an interior monologue in the present. Ultimately, I liked it, even if Picoult didn't write as convincingly from all the character's points of view.

  6. Loved your review! And hey, there's nothing wrong with crying at Hallmark commercials (that one with Daddy's Little Girl still kills me!) or jewelry ads.

    I actually liked the ending to this one, although I agree with you about the mom. Jodi is sort of hit and miss for me. Some of her books I really like, others I can't get into.

    Thanks for a great review!

  7. I HATED the end of this book, too! The movie changed the ending (and other things) so it was a little nicer to watch. I did like, however, the twist at the end of "Nineteen Minutes." You might want to give that one a try, though maybe after reading some happier books…

  8. I cannot even describe how I felt after I finished this one. The ending literally made me throw the book across the room — so I don't think that complaining to your boyfriend was too out there, haha. Loved your review!

  9. loved your review. But i LOVED the end of the book!
    not many stories you read that the main character dies moments before the end of the book!

    The movie however did not do the book justice. sepratly they are great stories but the book was much much better.

    Thanks for a great review.

  10. Thank you! I too have ranted to my boyfriend about the terrible cop out ending. It made me not want to read anything else she’s written because it’s just such a huge betrayal(no joke I get mad every time I see her name on a book cover) not emotionally like oh no how could you kill Anna she’s the only one I actually care about in this story (though she is) but just from a story telling standpoint. Like you said the whole story is about making choices for yourself and then no one actually gets to make their own decisions–not even Kate.

    I just watched the movie, grumbling the whole time because I knew what was going to happen and then when that didn’t happen I was like oh wow awesome maybe she realized it was a total BS deus ex machina cop out! But no. I googled it and found that there was all this outrage and got mad again and wondered if I was alone in my hatred of this ending. And then I googled “am I the only one who hated the ending to my sister’s keeper.” And then I found this and I feel better. So thank you!