Friday, January 6, 2012

MY SISTER'S KEEPER by Jodi Picoult book review


As I mentioned in my first blog post, I was just reading "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult. Not anymore - I finished it yesterday. Before I begin reviewing the book, there's two things I want to bring to your attention: One, the book that I read was by the author Jodi Picoult. This is important to mention again because upon searching for the book I was reading on Barnes & Noble, I discovered that the title isn't such an original one after all. Without exaggerating, a least five different books came up with that exact same title, all by different authors. It's important that you know which book I read and reviewed, so if you're interested in reading this book that I'm talking about, make sure you purchase the one by none other than: Jodi Picoult. Another important thing I want to mention is that I have not seen the movie for this book. I've heard quite a few people tell me about it, and as from what I've heard, I really have no interest in seeing it. The book was a wonderful and fascinating novel and I fear the movie just takes away from it. (On a side note, I've never been too keen on Cameron Diaz.)

In case you don't know what the book is about, here's a brief description of it, courtesy of Barnes & Noble's website: 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.

I will try my best to not give away very many important spoilers for those of you who haven't read it. The entire book is narrated by five characters: Anna, Campbell (Anna's lawyer), Jesse (her brother), Brian (her father), Sara (her mother) and Julia (her guardian ad litem). For the first few times Sara narrates, it is of moments from the past. The memories she talks about from the past I think were an essential part of showing you who Sara is and understanding her as a mother. It pulls the curtain back a little bit and helps you sympathize with her, when books that are typically based on one character and gives the perspective of that character alone, it's easy to solely side with them.

This book does not offer you that. You feel the tug of each character, bringing you into their world, the narrations all different. One of the best things about this novel is that each character has their own personality with the way they narrate and explain a situation. Even the analogies they use are different and fit their personalities perfectly. When books have two or more narrators instead of the usual one, they tend to blend together, making it damn near impossible to separate each chapter with a different character. Not this book. I found myself fascinated to flip the page, see what Campbell was thinking; what Jesse was thinking. You'll find you're on everybody's side.

Jesse is a very interesting character for me. For reasons I can't explain without giving away a spoiler, his character does the biggest turn-around and the most substantial amount of growth, I think. He is a pyromaniac who walks around with a chip on his shoulder and disregard to his family (even with his dying sister, it seems) and initially comes off cold-hearted. But sooner than you'd think, the author makes you understand Jesse, even though it seems he narrates far less than the rest of them. Jesse is an extremely chaotic character, one that I found was hard not to love.

Anna is a confusing human being, as most thirteen year-olds can be. She seems to go back-and-forth a lot, which may send your mind reeling and as a reader, you may find you're as frustrated as her lawyer. But Anna was the absolute ideal character in a situation like this. She's a very smart, witty young girl who has all the love in the world for her sister, that much is obvious. What she is feeling in regards to the treatments is natural; the shame she feels for feeling that way is, too. Anna is a truly beautiful character. You will grow attached to her; protective of her. I did. 

The most fascinating thing about this novel was how the author not only managed to give voice to all of these characters, but Kate, as well. Kate is not a narrator, until the very end, but they give you plenty about Kate for you to feel you know her already. You learn about Kate through the eyes from the other individuals, and soon you understand Kate yourself. Kate is a beautiful and pained sixteen-year-old whose life has been nothing but a trip and a hard fall down, only to experience the picking herself up part to get tripped as hard the second time around - that's the only way I can explain it. The author gives Kate a voice that sounds tired and weak, and frustrated in her position. Kate was written perfectly, as well.

I have nothing negative to say about this novel. This novel was hard to put down. This author had me drawn to it immediately with its excellent writing and wonderful dialogue and narratives. This book is strong and beautiful and painful. I closed the book with a lump in my throat and feeling very heavy with the impact of the novel. That means it's a good novel when it affects you that strongly. The author is brilliant.

I recommend you give this book a try. One thing I would like to note is that the ending is VERY surprising. I'm talking extremely surprising. If you've seen the movie, you would not have guessed that, because I've heard the ending in the movie is very different and more unoriginal. I had to read a part of the ending over because it was THAT shocking. I couldn't believe it. But the ending was still a perfect ending. Well, sort of. I don't want to say it was perfect because it was almost hard to accept at first. I couldn't wrap my head around it. I can't go into much more detail without spilling out the end.

If you're ready to ride this emotional, extremely up-and-down roller coaster, by all means, hop aboard, but be ready for a shocking twist at the end and a book so real it literally captures you. If you're like me, you find your mind is on it even after you've put it down for the night.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Meet the Reviewer


Chances are if you're reading this, then you know me. You know that I love to write; that I have the capability to go into long, detailed descriptions with just about anything; a capability I use often. I love posting reviews. It's funny though, because I never, ever post reviews on products I've purchased, despite the emails I've received trying to tempt me. Even if the product is satisfying, I've never put my satisfaction into words, in hopes that my opinion of said purchased product will influence another customer into bringing that item into their life. I was just always too lazy for that. But I have found time to review much different things in the past: CDs I couldn't wait to buy, specials on TV I couldn't wait to see; that sort of thing. I don't think anyone really cares to hear my opinion, so I'm not sure where the great need to write out my thoughts came from, but it just seems like I thoroughly enjoy getting them out.

Because of that, I started this blog. This blog will only be dedicated to books and only books, my true passion in life. I love to read. You can say it's something to the liking of an obsession, but it's such a beautiful one that calling it an obsession almost sounds wrong. Obsession makes it sound sinful. Reading books is my escape; my sole escape from the world. Everyone has one. Some people are blessed with physical places they can go to, to clear their head. My room is technically my sanctuary; my little corner of the world, but in my room is where I get to read. I can't read in any other room in my house because it's oftentimes way too noisy. I need complete silence when reading - well, almost. I like to have some kind of fan-like noise in the room, whether it be from my heater or humidifier (which I purchased solely for the soft humming sound). In my room, in the corner, on my bed, is where I've experienced so many different lives. With just two hands and a book pulled wide open, I have lived so many different lives and seen through so many different pairs of eyes. This is reading to me: becoming somebody else for a couple hundred pages or so. Why do people act the way they do? Why should we not judge people? Reading books and living through different characters has educated me on life lessons: do not judge someone by one poor action on their part. We do not know how this person thinks, or what they're going through. The stories I've read in books, they're all very different, and just like in the real world, no one person is the same. We all have our reasons for why we do what we do. Stories give you a perspective, an insight, into the minds of people who have sinned so badly they disgust themselves; stories that take you deep into their emotions, raw and completely uncensored. In my experience, books don't censor people's insanity. They burrow deep at the root of it and dig through it. I love novels that tear at your emotions. I especially love novels that go heavy into detail with their thoughts and emotions at one specific moment in time. When so-and-so touches so-and-so's skin, their brain goes fuzzy and their thoughts are hazy. When I'm reading this, I'm so drawn into the book, I trick myself into thinking I felt it, too.

I cannot accept the possibility that I'm just plain crazy, and that books don't affect people like they affect me. Perhaps I've taken reading to the "next level," but I'm positive there are addicted readers who enjoy devouring a thick novel as much as me. I guarantee there are people who get lost in bookstores, wide-eyed, scanning the shelves, picking up book after book, reading the summaries and then deciding that the summary isn't good enough, because sometimes the summaries just plain suck and are nothing like the book itself, so you flip through pages, getting brief bits and pieces of the lives inside the pages. And it only takes that to decide if you want to buy it or not; do you want to take this book home and experience this adventure? Sometimes you leave it there, and that book is brought back to mind next time you visit that store again. I'm sure that there are readers who, like me, like to have a book with them at all times. And then there are readers, like me, who read when they need to feel. When they need to be jolted alive, to feel something, because sometimes it feels like they're numb. A book is a great escape in that aspect, as well. It's impossible to feel numb when you read a chapter that makes your throat tighten with sadness.

I'll even go the extra mile here and admit that I get sad when the book comes to an end. Unless the book wasn't all that great and the ending is predictable, then it's okay, but usually, there's a bit of sadness when I close that book for good and the story's over. I usually predict the ending line in a book to be a tear-jerker, or to at least put that pressure in the bottom of my throat. I just love to read stories. I love to see them begin, usually pleasantly, the characters' lives very neat, and then to watch it all unravel. I love to watch stories build, break apart, and then miraculously come together. I love to see the disaster in the characters; the pain, the sadness, the misery and the triumph. I love to see them struggle and then come alive. But I hate saying goodbye to them.

Books mean that much to me. So even though I'm not a skilled enough writer to pick apart a published author's novel, I have my opinions. I've lived these books; I take my reading seriously. You can trust that I keep an open mind when it comes to reading new novels, which is why I greatly prompt you to toss out some suggestions for me, if there's a novel you're interested in reading or have read and want my opinion. I'll read almost anything.

CURRENTLY READING: "My Sister's Keeper." I actually found this book somewhere in an aisle in our grocery store years ago and wanted to buy it. I'm glad I didn't, because I was around ten or so, and this book is certainly not the material I had in mind at that age. I wouldn't have took very well to all the discussion about medical health and disease. But at seventeen, almost eighteen, I'm glad to have finally gotten my hands on this book again. Turns out my mom bought it a while ago. I'm a little more than halfway through it, and it has me captivated. I can't keep it down for very long. Throughout the day, I keep returning to it. Review is coming up soon! (I have not seen the movie.)

Love, Carrie The Nutty, Obsessive Bookworm.