Wednesday, May 6, 2009

First Review! My Sister's Keeper

The way I decide which books to read is interesting. The quote from Friends usually comes to mind: “Are you judging them by their covers, because you’re not supposed to do that.” Sometimes I do! I also sometimes peruse the New York Times Bestseller list because hey, if everyone else is reading these books…

I found out about this book by watching Entertainment Tonight and catching a trailer for its movie due out at the end of June. The trailer roped me in and I was nearly in tears just by watching it. If the book is always better than the movie, and the trailer had me enraptured, I had better get this book!

So I did. And I wasn’t disappointed!


Spoiler-LESS Synopsis: This unique and politically relevant story is told through the eyes of several different people. The main character, Anna Fitzgerald, is 13 years old and was born with the specific purpose of saving her sister, Kate’s life. Kate has been suffering from APL, a rare form of leukemia, since she was two years old. When her parents (Sara and Brian) realize neither they nor their son, Jesse, are matches for donating, they genetically engineer Anna to be a donor.

It started directly after Anna’s birth, with the cord blood donation. When Kate relapsed, Anna was there to donate again with bone marrow. Now, at sixteen, Kate’s kidneys are beginning to fail, and her only chance of survival is getting a kidney from her sister, the harvest child.

Though Anna and Kate share a unique bond, Anna has had enough of her fears and her pain being ignored by her parents. She decides to sue them for rights to her own body, despite the consequences to her sister and entire family. She elicits the help of local celebrity attorney, Campbell Alexander. Her guardian ad litem, Julia Romano, also joins to review Anna’s story along with all the family members. (A sub-plot to this novel is flashbacks of a previous and intense love shared between Campbell and Julia.)

All in all, the book is told through each character, with Kate only giving her point of view in the epilogue.

(For a better snap-shot of the plot, check out the trailer for the movie, HERE!)

My Review: While a political agenda could possibly be entwined in this novel, Jodi Picoult does an outstanding job of solely focusing on the Fitzgerald family, and how they are affected by their circumstances. This actually kept me reading the book, because the right vs. wrong aspect is really second-tier in it.

The character chapters are often very short, which can sometimes delay the development of the actual story. Especially since there are six constant characters adding to it. That, along with the transparent nature of the troubled-older son, Jesse, are the only complaints I have with this book. It takes about 100 pages to really get into, but you’ll keep asking yourself, “What is Anna going to do?!”

The trial at the end of the novel reveals a special twist that will truly endear you to Anna and why she is doing what she is doing. You’ll also develop your own opinions on Sara Fitzgerald. She seems to only be worried about Kate and ignores her two other children, but again reveals how she struggles from day to day heartbreak, and how she truly loves and values all of her children.

Despite my earlier complaints, I do love this book because of the different perspectives coming from it. The family matters are heart wrenching, and it’s interesting to catch a glimpse into such a family’s life. You’ll also constantly be thanking your lucky stars to never be put in such a sad and relationship-rifting position!

No doubt, this book is a tearjerker. Picoult’s eloquent writing and subject matter WILL have you reaching for the tissues, and if you’re like me, you’ll be crying long after the last page.

Do I suggest this book? Absolutely!


So, that’s my first review. This was actually a difficult review to write, since I mailed the book to Tanya before I had a chance to write it! I’m sure the nature of these reviews will change over time.

I’m not claiming to be an official reviewer of the written word, so I’d love to get feedback! Do you want to see more or less summary (spoilers, perhaps)? Should I delve into my opinions more?

I want this blog to also be a forum for your opinions on these books as well! If you’ve read My Sister’s Keeper, leave a comment!


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tanya's Fave Five

As you’ll notice, I’m far behind Meredith in updating my list of Faves and you should probably just consider that a trend you’ll have to get used to. My schedule doesn’t ever stop me from reading, but it does sometimes slow me down and prevent me from having the free time to write or talk about the books I loved or hated. Yes, loved or hated. I’m not usually a “somewhere in the middle” kind of gal and you’ll notice that as well. And you’ll probably love or hate that about me. Clear as mud?

My husband and I have been debating lately (not uncommon at all), about what makes good music. I think it was you, Meredith, who once said that whatever made your toes tap was good music. I love it. My taste in music is similar to my taste in b
ooks in that I like what I like. It doesn’t have to be the best-written literature since Hemingway, but just something that evokes emotion from me and keeps me turning the pages (so, yes, that means I loved the Twilight books). The best books are the ones that make you actually feel lost when they end. Which is why I’m a big fan of series—there’s always something more.

Ok, list of Top 5 Faves.

1. A Land Remembered. (Patrick Smith) – I always try to convey how much I loved this book by telling people that I had to read this book as a summer read for 11th grade English and after our presentation on the book, our teacher gave us the option of donating the book or doing an assignment on it, and I chose the assignment. It’s the story of three generations of a Florida family battling hardships of the frontier and how they go from being dirt-poor to wealthy real estate tycoons. Throughout the book you’ll fall absolutely in love with the characters as if they were your own ancestors and you’ll see them fight off starvation, hurricanes (before the days of the weatherman giving you three weeks notice), freezes, rustlers, and the loss of their own family members. This is the only one of my top 5 books that is “in order.” For the last 10 years, this has been my favorite book—I made my mom and my husband read it, btw. Mer, you’re next.

2. The Outsiders. (S.E. Hinton) – Apparently while other kids were having fun in school and tolerating the assigned reading, I was being a big dork and loving all of the books. You really can’t help but fall in love with Pony Boy and get lost in the social-class war he and his friends battle every day. Pony Boy is a “Greaser” who comes from a broken home, no money and way of life that means literally fighting respect. He and his friends battle with the “Socs” (short for Socials) a group who has money and social prowess. One night Johnny kills a Soc in a fight and Pony Boy struggles with the ethics of murder and standing by your friends. When you finish the book, look up how old the author was when she wrote it. You won’t believe it.

3. Roots. (Alex Haley) – I figured I’d lump of the school readings together. I mean, if more than 10 years later these books are so memorable to me, they’ve gotta be good, right? There’s no short way to describe Roots, except to say that is a heart- and gut-wrenching (based on a) true story of a slave and his family from the time he was kidnapped in Africa, through the next seven generations. It’s ridiculously long, and at the end you will be so disappointed that it is over.

4. Lucky. (Alice Sebold) – This is the non-fiction, memoir counterpart to The Lovely Bones that Meredith has in her top 5. Sebold is a great writer and story-teller for sure. She was raped as a college freshman, but the police said she was "lucky." At least she wasn't murdered and dismembered like the girl before her. The memoir starts with her violent attack and then spins into remembering her life previous and facing her life head-on afterwards (struggles with addiction and all). I read this just out of college it was very personal for me because I realized how truly LUCKY my friends and I were to have never faced something so evil.

5. The Stephanie Plum Novels. (Janet Evanovich) – What a crack up series. The whole series is special to me because I had stopped reading for so long and this one, recommended by a neighbor, got me hooked again. I read 17 books in this series (yep, it’s a long one) last summer and haven’t stopped “inhaling” them since. Evanovich captures the true definition of writing physical comedy. Not writing about it, but writing it. The books are easy reads, will absolutely make you laugh out loud and are favorites of women I personally know from the ages of 20 something to 70 something and everywhere in between. Personal faves include books 4 and 8.