An Exemplary Book Review

You picked it. This review got the most votes from Monday’s Read-Around.  It isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty darn good for a first draft.

Below is the full text of the review, but HERE is the full text with my annotations, highlighting some of the things the review does well. Use this as a model to help you revise your own review, which I’m sure will turn out to be just as awesome!


“If you have a sister and she dies, do you stop saying you have one? Or are you always a sister, even when the other half of the equation is gone?”

These questions had haunted Anna Fitzgerald all her life, literally since the day she was born. In fact, she was brought into this world to save her sisters life. Because Anna’s sister Kate had acute promyelocytic leukemia, she was constantly in need of leukocytes or stem cells or bone marrow. And Anna was expected to give it to her. Almost any time Kate was admitted to the hospital, Anna was too. And she hated it. Which was why, when her parents asked for her kidney, she decided to file for medical emancipation, or the rights to her own body.

My Sister’s Keeper is incredibly well written. The characters that Jodi Picoult created are vibrant and colorful and ironically full of life, as is true in many of her other 19 novels. As a mother of three, Picoult had a very unique insight. To write about a dying child must have been a very challenging topic, when you have three of your own.

When writing about such a controversial subject as adolescent cancer, many authors would tip-toe around the fear that this could happen to anyone. But Picoult didn’t take any precautions to shield her readers from the harsh reality of the real world. The book takes place in a fairly affluent neighborhood, so the characters are not greatly affected by outside conflicts such as poverty. But even though the characters didn’t have financial worries, they were faced with the struggle of Kate Fitzgerald’s leukemia everyday. Kate had been diagnosed when she was just two years old. After endless chemotherapy treatments, the end was near, until her doctor unofficially recommended umbilical cord blood. This meant having another child. So Kate’s parents decided to have a baby, introducing Anna Fitzgerald, otherwise known as Kate’s spare parts. From the moment of her birth, Anna donated parts from her body to help Kate. Over the years, resentment started to build up, until finally, when her parents asked for her kidney to save Kate’s life, Anna had no choice but to refuse.

So, she went to Campbell Alexander, a very expensive, very high-class lawyer in the hopes that he would take on her case to file for medical emancipation. And he did. If she won the trial, Anna would get to make all future medical decisions instead of her parents. But there was a catch. If Anna refused to give her kidney to her sister, Kate would die.

I don’t really know if i would recommend this book to just anyone, because of the ongoing struggle between life and death, holding on and letting go. These conflicts can be difficult to comprehend. As a reader, I feel that to enjoy this book you have to really understand it’s message: that sometimes its okay to let go. At the end of the book, the author made a very risky decision which caused me to both love and hate the book.  A major theme in this story that was conveyed through the struggles of the characters is that you need to do whats best for the people you love, even its not what you want. Picoult’s decision to have multiple narrators greatly influences the reader’s experience. The different narrators each give the reader a different perspective which leaves the reader to decide what is the most reliable. Since the narrators all have different opinions on the conflict, their information might be clouded by personal judgements. Although, this doesn’t make them any less important.

To fully comprehend the deeper meaning behind My Sister’s Keeper, a reader must not dwell on the absolutely terrible ending.  I don’t think that the author was content with having a predictable ending, which was why she chose to end it as she did. This book was a very challenging read, and not for literary reasons. It made me question everything I know about family, fate, and even God, which is why it was so extraordinary.


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