Is it ethical to have a child so that they can serve as a donor for another child? This is the question that this book explores. Kate is a little girl who is dying from Leukaemia and her parents have another child, Anna, so that she can be a bone marrow donor for her sister. Throughout her life, she undergoes a number of very painful procedures in order to help prolong Kate’s life, but then at thirteen, she decides that she will no longer go through with all of this, after her mother tells her that she will need to donate a kidney to her sister.
This is such a fascinating concept to me and what helps to make this an absolutely incredible novel is the fact that each and every character is really well developed. At times you may think that Anna’s mother, Sara, seems cold and uncaring towards Anna, but then when you get to see all that she’s been through with Kate’s health deterioration and it’s difficult to stay mad at her, because you see where she’s coming from even if, like me, you are completely on Anna’s side.
Eventually, this turns into a court case, with Anna seeking medical emancipation from her parents so that she can gain autonomy on all medical matters. Through this, you meet Campbell Alexander, Anna’s lawyer, a character who has an interesting history of his own which adds a lot to the novel. I cared very much for every character, because as a reader, I’d been through so much with everyone of them. When conflict arises, you can sympathise with everyone and it all feels so real.
Ultimately, what Jodi Picoult has done is take an interesting question of moral philosophy and then created a cast of three-dimensional characters with a huge amount of depth in order to humanise every perspective. No character really exists just to serve a purpose in the plot, rather, each person feels as though they are the main character of their own story – just as they should.
The book has a huge twist which I didn’t see coming and which left me absolutely stunned. As usual, I won’t spoil anything about it, but I will say that this is one of the moving novels I’ve read in a long time. The emotional impact was so big, that I felt it a long time after I’d finished book and so I can only give it my highest recommendation. Do try it!