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"My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult

Anna was a designer baby, engineered to be a perfect tissue match for her older sister who is dying from a rare form of leukemia. But when does she get to have her own life? When does she get to say if and when her body can be harvested for parts? What if her sister's needs collide with her own?

Campbell is an expensive lawyer who assumes that any teen girl who wants to hire his services would be better served by Planned Parenthood and really doesn’t want to mess with a thirteen-year-old—especially one whose vocabulary and technical knowledge exceeds some assistants he’s had. He agrees to help her sue her parents for the right to her own body in exchange for polished doorknobs but can he win the case? Does the girl really want him to?

Sara is Anna’s mother who knows more about leukemia, hospitals and edge-of-life living than any mother should. She simply wants her eldest daughter to live and enjoy life for as long as possible. It’s ridiculous to even imagine that the younger one might not.

Brian is Sara’s husband—a firefighter who deals with life and death as part of his job. Is Anna right to sue them? Whose life is more important?

Jesse is the oldest child. He’s been pretty much left to his own devices since he is not needed in the frequent life and death battles that centre around his eldest sister. Instead, he plays with matches, high-speed driving and anything else that will get him noticed—not that it ever helps.

Julia has been appointed Anna’s guardian ad litem to untangle the complexities between she who is suing and they who are being sued as they live under the same roof. How many of Anna’s decisions are hers alone and how many are influenced by her need to please her parents? What are her best interests?

Kate is in desperate need of a kidney. Because of her compromised system, no kidney will work except from Anna. If she doesn’t get it within the week, she will die. The tangle must be unravelled and a decision reached quickly. The need is urgent.

Each character, but Kate, tells his or her part of the story first-person in alternating chapters. The issues and ethics are clearly not straightforward and the separate views are insightful.

Again I thought about my sister Susan and all the medical care she needed after half her face was cooked, crushed between snow and hot manifold when she was two; of all the many visits to the plastic surgeon (I liked Dr. Merkle) and hospital (I wasn’t allowed to visit—rules were stricter then about age of visitors), the times of recovery following.

My response wasn’t to act out like Jesse in My Sister’s Keeper, though I was very jealous of the attention and gifts she got that I didn’t, but to be as good and as perfect as possible. I was thirteen months older than Susan yet many of the parts of her medical journey are lost to my memory. I remember her surgeon, the Punkinhead bear from Eaton’s that she treasured, the slippers with squeeze-so-they-squeak heads bobbing on the top, a photo in my mind of her head swathed in bandages and gauze, the time she began to haemorrhage from her latest surgery that caused Mom to faint. I remember the time I bashed her over the head with a cast iron frying pan because she wasn’t doing the dishes as Mom said and it was my job to make sure she did.

It’s amazing how a novel about someone else can evoke such memories and emotional turmoil. I wish Susan was still living. I’d like to tell her how sorry I am. It’s taken nearly fifty years but I finally get it.

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About the Author


I'm married (35 years in December 2008) with four grown sons. I love my city (Winnipeg) and my country (Canada) and promote them both to whoever will listen. God (through Jesus Christ) is the biggest part of my life. I am learning to let him take control of all areas--though I do better at this some times more than others.

I have written a book that's recently been published about part of my journey with God. In it I tell how God confronted me with the same-sex attraction issues I've struggled with all my adult life and how he led me through them to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with him. God is amazing—his forgiveness, his love, his movement in our lives when we allow him and so much more. I suspect God will never run out of things to teach me or ways to make me grow and that’s a good thing (though often very painful).

I suppose I can say that what gives me the greatest pleasure in life is telling others about…

Memories of Mikael Vincent Tien Doe Chan

Reviews of Searching for Love

If you have read the book, I would love to hear your thoughts on it. You may e-mail me at or post them in the comments section below.

A Real Testimony
I finished your book. A real testimony to what God does for us.
Leona March 3, 2009
I Had Tears Coming

I sat down to read it about a week later and ended up finishing it the same night. At first I admit I was a little bored and thought that the whole book was about a battle all in your mind, but as I continued reading this creeping thought came over me of a different...struggle in my own life, that I would never in my right mind have shared with anyone accept maybe God. I've mentioned your book to a few people because it stirs up age-old controversies that I have myself argued and wondered about, namely about whether or not homosexuality can be cured or just managed like alcoholism--you just have to stay away from temptation. I noticed at the end of your book that your struggle story …