Friday, December 10, 2010
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
I finally picked up this book after years of dithering only because I had a credit at my bookstore and I was curious about this 'ripped-from-the-headlines', 'must read' medical ethics story about a child, Anna, conceived for the sole purpose of being a matched donor to her leukemic elder sister, Kate. But what about Anna's rights? She has spent all of her thirteen years being harvested for parts to keep Kate alive, and now, on the eve of giving up a kidney, she wants it to stop.
I've never read Jodi Picoult (nor Nora Roberts, nor Maeve Binchy, nor any of the other chick-lit authors that seem to churn out a new novel every couple of months) so maybe the deck was already stacked against me. The flowery covers of these types of books turn me off; and I don't do covers with dogs or cats either, at all, from any author. So the bubbles (?) on this particular cover should have been warning enough to stay away. Bubbles can't be a good sign.
But I bought the book anyway figuring I would at least dip my toe in the waters to see if my prejudices were justified. I've been wrong before (surprise, I know); and I'm always open to discovering 'new' authors; and, because of my store credit, this book was practically free, so . . .
The first red flag came when I realized that each chapter is written, in turn, from the POV of each and every character, of which there are many. (Thankfully there's no cat to weigh-in, like some other books I know) But -ehn- I can live with it; a lot of good fiction is written this way too. I just find authors get carried away, giving us far more information than is relevant to the story at hand. And I am one reader who likes to, for god's sake, get on with the story.
The next red flag is the stock characters: Anna, the precocious, snarky (can you say 'Juno'?) thirteen year-old; Jesse, the flawed, hurting, black-sheep-of-the-family brother; Kate, the sick princess; Sara, the stay-at-home-but-could-have-been-a-lawyer-don't-ya-know mom; Brian, the fire-fighter dad, whom I totally lost interest in; and Campbell, the disabled lawyer whom Anna 'hires' to take her case. Even the coffee shop guy has to be a pierced and tattooed grunge kid who calls everyone 'dude'.
Okay, so there's the POV thing. And there's the Central Casting thing. But by the time I'm a third of the way through, and still reading, I think I'm making progress. I've met all the characters, and made peace with the writing style, and and am now well on my way to getting on with the story. But no. There's a new character I have to meet who has a point of view and a history all her own. And (surprise) happens to be the lawyer's old high school flame. And (surprise) they have to work together. They have a History! This creates Tension! Oh, please. This kind of formulaic writing makes my eyes glaze over. I can't do it. My Sister's Keeper has been officially DNF-ed.