This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for a year now though I wanted to read this for a long time. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult is a story about a 13-year-old teenager Anna, whose life is anything but average. The book is an emotional rollercoaster.
Anna is a 13-year-old teenager who has always been aware of the circumstances of her birth. Anna is a genetically engineered baby. Her parents Sara and Brian, decide to have a third child who will be the perfect donor for their second child Kate, who suffers from a rare type of leukemia. The story begins when Anna files a lawsuit against her parents for rights to her own body. The story of the book follows this lawsuit with time jumps between the past and the present.
The plot of the book follows a specific time frame in the present, beginning with Anna hiring a lawyer Alexander Campbell till the end of the trial. Jesse is Kate and Anna’s older brother who is always getting into trouble but the siblings have a good relationship. The few chapters at the beginning itself are emotionally heavy and this continues throughout the story. The family dynamics go through a change when the lawsuit is filed and it gets further complicated with everyone reacting differently to the situation. Brian immediately starts doubting their choices so far while Sara is shocked that Anna has done something like this. There are many moral and ethical questions raised, from the parents’ side and Anna’s, still there is no right or wrong.
It is not exactly a courtroom drama though a lot of plot points come up during the trial. The judge appoints a guardian ad litum for Anna named Julia Romano. The narration is from different perspectives – Anna, Sara, Brian, Jesse, Campbell, and Julia. At first, it was a little confusing with the multiple narrators, but as the story progressed, it made complete sense. You get an insight into each character that helped me understand their motives and reactions to the circumstances. Jesse and Anna feel invisible in their own family at times because Kate’s health overshadows everything else. Campbell and Julia give a third-person point of view about the family dynamics that reveal so much about the other characters.
The story is about a family and their unusual situation. The siblings are very close to each other especially Kate and Anna; their relationship is so typical in some ways. Once to get to know the characters, it is hard not to feel for them. There is no right answer or decision to the questions asked in the story. At the start, it seems somewhat black and white, but it gets murkier as the story progresses. It is so heartbreaking to see what is going on in their mind, what they have been through; you cant root for just one of them. The epilogue of the book is from Kate’s perspective, and it was the most emotional part for me to read through.
This book is well written and constructed. The moral and ethical debates arising in the story are dealt with in a subtle way yet, they linger in your head even after you have finished reading. This story is extremely emotional, and even though you want to keep reading, it can get too heavy at times. It is a beautiful and heartbreaking story of a family. It is a must-read.
Your 20’s can be a weird period of time. If
you have been a dreamer and idealist all your life, this particular time of
your life has a special kind of bittersweet effect on you. Till your 20’s, life
has been dreamy, filled with rainbows and sunshine; suddenly it all disappears
and reality sets in. Our illusion of reality, our bubble in which we lived,
bursts and it can be frustrating to navigate through all of this at once.
There are some things you can do in your 20’s to make your life better. I know it’s not as easy as it sounds but it’s something which will be helpful to make peace with the changes taking place in our lives.
Put yourself first
It’s time to put your needs, your dreams
and passions first. You have to stop and realize that there is no way you’ll
ever please everyone and accept that. Use this period of your life to start
making decisions which make you happy and excited, instead of thinking what
anyone might say or feel about your decisions. Choose people and opportunities
which will make you happy whether they the norm or not.
Surround yourself with good people
There are some people in all our lives
which try to pull us down whether it is intentional or not. Its necessary to be
around friends or family who are supportive of you not in a sugarcoating
everything for you way but in a way where you can always count on them.
Spending time with people who are understanding, supportive, and positive, goes
a long way in keeping us mentally sane. Knowing there are people who always
have your back no matter what is such a comfort in this confusing phase of
Things do not go your way once in a while,
as we grow up most of the times they don’t go your way. Its okay to make
mistakes, at this stage making mistakes is very normal. These mistakes don’t
define your life they will help you improve. So, all the frustration and
disappointment over failure is completely okay but try not to dwell on it too
much. Failure is not the end of anything it’s just a step to better things.
This is the most difficult part of life, ‘letting go’. I know saying to someone that should let go is an easy thing but actually doing it, is a whole another ball game. It’s tough forgetting the past, it is like moving on from a part of your life and it takes a lot of effort but its necessary. The world is full of possibilities and all the things you deserve will be yours eventually but dwelling on the issues that hurt to hinders the present. Live in the moment and everything will work out just have a little faith.
Trying to incorporate these perspectives
into your life might seem far-fetched but it will actually help you deal with
the turmoil within. You have to go with the flow and no matter how cliché it
sounds; you have to be patient and optimistic to be able to adjust to
She couldn’t sleep properly all night, the memories kept flashing back to back to her every time she closed her eyes. She dreamt about her parents last night as well she wasn’t sure why. Everything was changing. She was scared, vulnerable, hurt and terrified of facing the day. She took a deep breath and reminded herself about the things she thought last night. Words like strong, brave, good friend ran through her mind and she decided she was going to act on it. It hadn’t stopped raining, every time she heard the thunder she jumped a little, it was scary. She was tired; she didn’t feel like getting out of the bed. She couldn’t hide in her room forever even though it was her best option. She got up hesitantly and decided to run a bath and cool down, her eyes were stinging, throat was sore, her head hurt and she looked like a zombie. After a long bath she got dressed in sweats, using make up to hide the bags under her eyes and made her way downstairs quietly. Nana was cooking humming along softly, she stopped when she saw her and smiled like nothing was wrong.
“Good morning, what’s for breakfast?” She asked settling herself
on the counter stool. “Pancakes. Here have some.” Nana said pushing three on
Three? She didn’t think she will even be able to finish one. Why was nana pretending like nothing was wrong? She hasn’t asked her a thing about yesterday. April didn’t want to talk about it but she could at least ask. She didn’t get why her nana thought that not asking about it was giving her space, she needed someone to hold her and tell her that all is going to be okay. She stabbed the pancake with her fork before shoving it in my mouth angrily, just ask and get it over with this silence was killing her. She sighed and sat down quietly like we always do. Stay strong, everything is okay nothing happened she kept repeating this in her mind over and over again. She finally snapped, pushed her plate away and stormed to her room slamming the door behind her.
She groaned, what was wrong with her? She got angry with nana when she didn’t even do anything. She just needed a reason to be angry at something or someone, let this frustration out. Nana had always been so sweet to her all the time and she behaved like a jerk, she didn’t have any control over her emotions at all; she felt so angry and hurt to a point where it was annoying. There was a knock on her door, she ignored it, and she didn’t want to talk to anyone right now and simply stay here until she was ready. She took deep breaths to calm herself down and there was another knock on her door.
She was about to get up when the door opened and Rose
entered her room. “Hi.” Rose said smiling at her. “I have been calling you
since yesterday, why is your phone switched off?” she asked and came to sit
next to her
Rose was the last person she wanted in here. She loved her but Rose got everything she’s ever wished for without having to ask twice, her life has been easy unlike April, she has had to struggle at every step. Why did she deserve better than her? “Hello. You are not going to say anything.” Rose said.
She sighed. “My phone’s not working it got wet. Why are you
here?” She snapped. She regretted her
rude comment when she saw her smile drop. “I mean this early. Sorry, I am just
tired didn’t mean to snap at you.” She apologized.
Rose shook her head and smiled. “You look like hell. Did you
sleep at all last night?” she asked. She didn’t want to talk about it so she
nodded letting Rose know that was the reason. “Not really but I know you have
something to tell me so spill it.” She said trying her best to sound enthusiastic.
“I and Adam are engaged.” Rose squealed loudly, smiling ear to ear. April looked at her and smiled before hugging her. They are happy and she should be psyched for them but she was not, not really. Wow, she was a crappy best friend wasn’t she?
“That’s great, congrats.” She said pulling away from her.
She was jealous how that Rose gets to be happy and when she is heartbroken. The
funniest thing was that she was getting married to the same guy she has been in
love with for years; it was freaking warming her heart. “How did it happen?”
She couldn’t help but ask, they were always arguing.
“Well, I have always had some kind of feelings for Adam not
as a friend but more. I didn’t know what to say to him or you for that matter,
I chickened out every time I tried so I just let it be the way. You know the
first time I saw him in my second grade class I developed a crush on him but it
took me a year to speak to him. It’s just I don’t exactly know how my innocent
crush turned out to be something so much more. That party we went to remember
he came back after dropping you home?” Rose asked and she simply nodded.
“We kissed that night, things were getting heated when he stopped and left saying he doesn’t want to lose me. I was drunk actually we both were. I confronted him later when he finally confessed he has feelings for me. I know it is weird to get directly engaged but we have known each other since we were 8. I never was able to feel so strongly for any other guy than Adam.” She stopped and smiled to herself surely thinking about that moment. April just waited for her to continue.
“We haven’t been dating officially but just knew that we love each other. He called you yesterday to tell you everything and celebrate with us but you didn’t come. I know its short notice but we are getting married soon but I will be moving with him to Denver. Its short notice but we are leaving next week. His dad wants him to join as soon as possible. I know there is still time but since we are leaving so I am just going to ask you, will you be my maid of honor?” she asked.
Say what now? Crap, she couldn’t do this, it would be super weird. She couldn’t watch them getting married and not feel awful about it. Rose was looking at her with so much hope in her eyes; she didn’t feel like ruining this for her. How could she not be a part of her best friends wedding. She was her best friend more like a sister, she was going to get over herself and be there for Rose when she needed her because that’s what friend does and honestly no matter what she knew she couldn’t stand losing Rose. “Of course. I would love to.” She said and Rose squealed hugging her again.
They chatted more and she realized that Rose loved Adam so much, she would do anything to make him happy maybe her long wait was over. She too deserves to be happy after all April never told her how she felt about him so Rose had no idea. She would hate herself on her behalf if she ever found out. After hearing Rose’s side of the story she thought this is meant to be, they are supposed to be together so who was she to interfere? She waved at her and Rose ran to her car to avoid getting wet. She walked back, Nana was sitting on the couch watching T.V, and she plopped next to her.
“I am sorry Nana. I behaved like a jerk, it’s been a hard day. I didn’t know what I was doing.” She said playing with her fingers.
“I know about Adam and Rose. I have known for a while now how you feel about the boy. I understand you are heartbroken but they are your best friends, I know you are more upset about losing them as friends you have a hard time letting people in. You feel everyone is going to leave you just like your mom and dad, you are scared and its okay but don’t let it affect your present, let the past be in the past. You and Adam were not meant to be but there is still someone out there for you. It’s not going to be easy but if you love them enough you three will we get through this stronger.” She explained.
Nana pulled her closer to her side when she noticed she had started crying again. All the things nana said were true. “I am scared of being alone. They are leaving next week itself, everything is changing again and I don’t like it.” She replied and buried her face in her hands.
“Oh dear, you will never be alone, remember that.” She said softly and patted her back lovingly. She always said her mum and dad were watching over her if I cry it will make them unhappy after which she decided she was right they wouldn’t want her to be miserable; when she was a kid this thought was a comfort. “You remind me so much of your mom though you look like your dad.” Nana said making her smile.
It’s not just her parents, Nana lost her daughter too. She talks only about their fond memories. April thought she should do the same, she wiped her tears and smiled at her. “No more crying, I will make popcorn you chose a movie and let’s enjoy the weekend.” She said getting up.
“And nana.” She was cut off by her. “I know I know a horror
movie. Get some ice cream too there is some left in the freezer.”
She and Nana spent the afternoon watching Paranormal
Activity 1 and 2. After the second part was over she stretched and sighed, it
was fun just hanging out with Nana alone, it’s been ages since they spent so
much time together. After she started
working there was a little time left in that she wanted to hang out her friends
so she and nana rarely got time only the two of them but she loved her so much.
She looked over Nana and she was sweating and looked pale, what was wrong with
her? She was fine just few minutes back. “Are you alright? You look pale; let
me get you a glass of water.” April said getting up.
She took my hand making me stop. “I am fine, I just need
fresh air.” She got up and leaned against the couch for support.
“You are not fine. Just stay here, I will get you a glass of
water and we will go to the hospital. Sit down please.” April said and ran to
the kitchen. She should call someone for help but the home phone was not
working due the storm and her phone got wet yesterday.
She grabbed bottle of water pouring some in a glass and went
to the living room. The glass slipped from her hand and shattered on the floor
with a loud thump. Nana was on the floor and her eyes were closed. Shit, she
slumped on the floor next to her and tried to wake her up but she didn’t
respond. She was breathing that’s for sure her chest rose with each breath.
April ran out of the house next door. Kyle would help her or at least his parent’s
will they are the only ones who could. She pounded on the door as hard as she
could. Kyle opened the door with his parents trailing behind him.
She grabbed his hand and tried to pull him along with her
but he pulled her close and rested his hands on her shoulder shaking her. “What’s
wrong? Are you okay? Say something please.” He begged.
“I…umm…” She trailed off. “Nana she collapsed her eyes are
closed please help me, something happened to her please. I don’t know what to
do, I am scared please Kyle” She said and started crying.
“Kyle you bring April with you. I and your mom will take Liv
to the hospital.” they said and left us there. In minutes she saw them getting
into the car with Nana and leaving.
Kyle pulled her into hug. “ Everything is going to be fine okay? I will take you there; do you need something from your house? You want to call anyone.” He whispered to her.
She buried her face in his shoulder and just shook her head.
He pulled away “Let’s go.” He said softly holding her hand and pulling her
along with him.
The next thing she knows was sitting in the hospital waiting room. The doctors hadn’t said a word for the entire time they had been here. Kyle was sitting next to her with his hand in hers and his parents too were waiting. She knew Nana was not coming back, she could feel it, she was not going to make it and she felt like part of her had just died. She clutched Kyle’s hand even tighter but he didn’t complain maybe she should call Rose and Adam she needed them now more than ever. All she could think of was Nana’s face when she was lying on the floor motionless and pale, she hated herself to even think like this but for a moment she thought nana was dead but thankfully she was breathing. She had no except her. Nana was her rock, she kept her sane in her life she was her mom, her dad, her friend and most amazing grandmother in the whole world.
Someone tapped on her shoulder. She got up shakily and faced
the doctor who stood in front of her with pity and regret filled eyes. She knew
it, she was right after all, she wished she was wrong. “She had a stroke. I am
sorry but we couldn’t do anything, she’s no more. We are sorry for your loss.”
The doctor said and squeezed her shoulder before leaving.
No, this can’t be happening, it is just a dream a very bad dream, no a nightmare. She pinched herself as hard as she could and closed her eyes to stop herself from crying out loud in pain. She slumped back on the chair, tears were flowing down her cheeks but she couldn’t care less. She looked straight ahead out of the window without saying a word to anyone, just kept staring. She had lost everything she held dear to her, her friends, her love and most importantly nana. If she was here April would get through situation, she was her pillar and now she was gone. Today when they were watching movies and gossiping she never thought that after midnight her nana might not even be alive. She was used to being with nana. They both had dinner together every night; nana would always make her favorite. Nana was very encouraging and never tried to held her back or stop her from making mistakes. She was her only family and now she was gone. April was truly alone.
Was this all happening because of her? She was so caught up with her problems that she didn’t even realize that nana was unwell. She took her for granted and now she had lost her forever. She should’ve paid more attention, taken her to a doctor then she might still be alive. There was no way that she had a heart attack suddenly, she must have been showing symptoms, hell she didn’t even know nana had any heart problem. She was not very old, 67 she should have had at least fifteen more years. Kyle’s face came in front of her; he was knelling on his knees in front of her and his lips were moving but she didn’t understand a word he said. If she would have gotten help sooner they might have been able to save her. It was all her fault due to her ignorance, reckless and self centered behavior cost nana her life. She would never be able to forgive myself; she deserved to live more than her.
“It’s my fault. This is all my fault.” She whispered to Kyle. He had such a pained expression on his face and pity in his eyes. She didn’t like when people thought about her tragic life. April had hated the look of sympathy every time they saw her. She refused to let them think she was weak that she was broken that was only for her to know. The last thing she wanted was everyone to look at her with those pitiful eyes like Kyle thinking, oh what a poor girl. She turned her head to the other side looking away from him and his eyes which pitied her.
“Diane’s older son Chris, remember him? He is an engineer, just moved back here a month ago.” my mother said. I knew it was too much to expect her not trying to set me up.
I nodded uninterestedly. “Good for him,” I answered.
My mother sighed. I could feel the anger building up in her but she tried to be patient with me. “I think you should meet him. He is a decent fellow.”
I groaned, focused on my plate slowly losing interest in the food and this conversation while she continued talking. “It will be nice for you to go out once in a while. You haven’t been on a date in years approximately in three. Why do you never approve of the boys I choose! I only want you to be happy.”
The concerned tone of her voice as she finished her lecture made me cringe inwardly. It didn’t help with the irritation I was feeling. I know she wants the best for me but forcing me is not the way to go. “Mom I am happy.” she looked skeptical but I continued. “Really, I am. I have you and dad, I have great friends, a pretty good job where I make quite a lot of money if I may say so myself and a cute little place of my own. I have everything I want so why wouldn’t I be happy?” I asked putting a fork full of food in my mouth. Praying she will let this topic slide for now.
With no such luck she continued, “Aren’t you lonely? It’s nice having someone next to you through thick and thin.” she suddenly paused. Her voice was barely a whisper “You haven’t dated anyone since…Jayden.”
I stiffened. After all this time just hearing his name makes my heart beat faster; he still has such an effect on me, he always did and he knew it. It never really lessened. “I don’t know what happened between you two but it’s been three years. It’s time to move on, he is not going show up one day and whisk you away,” she said softly.
I closed my eyes. The pain of losing him was still fresh; it was always there. I simply hid it better or I learned to live with it. “Is it wrong to have hope?” I whispered more to myself than to mom but I know I sounded wishful but I couldn’t help it.
“No sweetie. It’s not wrong but you can’t spend the rest of your life hoping. You have to stop sometime.”
She is right. It’s nothing different than what I try to convince myself all the time. He is not going to come back. We belonged in different worlds. The world where we are meant to be doesn’t exist. We tried, it didn’t work. I said awful things to him I can’t take back and he didn’t choose me which he can’t change or won’t. I told him one day if things were different maybe we can find a way to be together. I won’t find someone like him again even if I tried; he was perfect for me in every way. I felt safe, understood and most importantly happiness whenever I was with him. Now it seems ironic!
I believed that but every day I believe a little less and a little less. I worry that I might completely stop believing in this, in him. Without that where do I stand? I know what I felt for him was once in a lifetime. I will fall in love again, someday but never like that. Not so completely and madly that I couldn’t think about anything but him; an all-consuming kind of love. Never again. It happens only once.
It’s a book I have been meaning to read for a while now. Finally, when I got around to reading it, I finished reading it really quickly and it’s amazing. It is a good book no doubt but it’s not exactly an easy read. The novel is about an American Chinese family. The book begins with the disappearance of Lydia Lee; she is the middle child of James and Marilyn Lee and also their favorite. The book is set in the 1970’s in a small town in Ohio. The lives of everyone in the family are turned upside down once Lydia’s body is found at the bottom of a lake. The narrative then encompasses each of the family members perspectives and it shifts from past to present.
The book is written beautifully, every single emotion felt by the characters is described so perfectly, there is never a sense of detachment towards any characters because of this. The oldest son Nath is such a sympathetic character, he is brushed aside by his parents his relationship with his father James is strained because Nath is different than the person James wants him to be. Hannah is the youngest daughter and she is pretty much neglected by everyone in the family. The tone of the book lingers in sadness from the start but Hannah’s chapters just hits you hard; she is a quiet little girl who is the most observant one in her family, she blends in the background so often that the characters don’t even know if she is in their presence.
In the beginning, I’ll admit Lydia’s character didn’t intrigue me much but as the story unravels I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. She is the sole focus of her parents, she is pressurized by her parents knowingly as well as unknowingly. James and Marilyn pin all their lifelong hopes on her without realizing that it’s crushing her. As the past of James and Marilyn is slowly revealed through flashbacks you understand where they come from; James as someone who couldn’t fit in the “American” society and Marilyn who gives up on her aspirations and lives with regret.
The novel tackles sensitive topics like casual racism, sexism, and miscegenation without actually becoming a story about either of these topics. The subtleness weaved throughout the plot makes it much more effective and dramatic. All the characters are relatable and none of their emotions seem fabricated and the flow is very natural. The minor characters too like- Marilyn’s mother and Jack also play an important part in moving the plot ahead and it all adds up to the ending.
The dynamic between this family is tangible though I thought it was dysfunctional most of the time. Relationships between the characters at times are normal and at times are not, for example, Nath and Lydia. They are close but Lydia needs Nath a lot more as a support system than he needs her and the thought of him leaving for college disturbs Lydia. The plot stays focused on Lydia’s death and explores the lives of the family past and present through this incident.
The book was emotionally draining which was the reason I couldn’t read it as fast as I wanted to. It is a beautifully written book, it moves from past to present with perspective from each of the four characters seamlessly without the plot becoming confusing. The novel keeps you guessing from the beginning and you can’t wait to find out all the answers. I think it’s a must-read.
Sometimes, do you wonder when you open your eyes in the morning that all the bad things happening in your life are just a nightmare? The moment you open your eyes, things will change; they will get better. But life isn’t that simple is it? This feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach refuses to go away. Your hopes, dreams, expectations have only one enemy and that is the reality. Nothing seems to be going your way, you feel lost and defeated. One thought swirling in your mind all the time if this is all life is going to be like for you? The unanswered question is the biggest reason for your frustration. So many doubts overwhelming your mind all at once and there seems to be no end to the negativity in your head. Where is the thrill, the magic you have always wanted? You can’t seem to find the path to your destiny. Is growing up really this complicated? You wish someone would understand you, give advice and not judge. Be there by your side making sure you don’t fall. Why does every aspect of life seem harder when you are stuck? As far as you can see there is only a road and you have no idea where you’re going. It’s scary, intimidating even; not knowing your destination. You keep hoping it will get better; rise above it and then you will be where you want to be. I don’t know what’s going to happen in my life but one thing I know is that no matter what, I am not going to lose hope, there is always a way; there has to be one.