Bottom Line: “An intense collision of issues, characters and view points all stemming from one girl’s fight for life and another’s fight for justice, an inspiring, emotional read that you’ll find hard to put down.”
This book is huge. I could write a review on each of the characters in the book and still have plenty left over.
First off I like how Jodi’s used each of the character’s viewpoints throughout the book, even though in hind sight it makes it harder as a reader to take sides, figuring out who or what is right. Nevertheless that makes the book what it is! Was also a tad easier to understand from watching the movie before the book, already having sussed out the characters etc from the movie.
In a nutshell, Kate (middle child) has cancer. Sara and Brian (parents) obviously want to do whatever they can to save Kate’s life. The oldest son (Jesse) isn’t a blood match, so they have another child (Anna) who’s designed especially so that her blood and marrow can be used for Kate to keep her alive. Sounds gripping enough, but when Anna gets to 13, she’s had enough. She seeks out a lawyer (Campbell) and files for medical emancipation from her parents, meaning she receives the rights to her own body. Then the questions start rolling, is Anna being selfish? Are her parents being too forceful? Are they listening at all to her? Is this Anna’s own decision?
Anna pretty much missed out on a childhood, having been in and out of hospital whenever something happened to Kate, both having to deal with doctors, nurses, needles, and the like, whilst being always in doubt whether or not it’s Kate’s last visit, for either extreme. Anna was always aware from a young age that she was born for a specific purpose, makes you wonder what would’ve happened if Kate was healthy. It’s so intense; I couldn’t imagine being ‘made’ for a purpose like that. I wouldn’t know whether to feel honoured or used. Quite a way through the book we find out the real reason behind Anna filing against her parents which twists the story around quite a lot, and puts another spin on the characters. But before all this, we find a way that Anna escapes all this reality. Hockey. She gets accepted to go to a training camp but of course can’t go, just incase anything happens to Kate. Clearly from this she can’t have her own life.
I found Anna’s father Brian to be an interesting character throughout the book. He’s the peacekeeper in the family, as opposed to his wife who’s strictly set on Kate’s wellbeing and not so directly everyone elses. Brian’s the chief of the local fire station, and in this role whatever he says goes. Whereas at home, he’s not the chief. There are plenty of others whose opinions are ‘more valuable’ then his. Which I guess is why he thrives on being at work. A quote from Brian I found interesting was when rescuing someone from a fire “the safety of the rescuer is of a higher priority than the safety of the victim. Always.” Straight away this makes me think about all of the characters, not just the obvious scenario of Kate and Anna; several are coupled up this way. Brian’s way of getting far from his situation is Astronomy. I feel the reason for this is that he doesn’t have to deal with any of it, it’s there, it’s far away and he can come and go with it as he pleases. Whereas at home, he has to deal with it, it’s in his face 24/7, and he can’t just give up on it.
A few words come to mind to describe Anna’s mother, Sara. Forceful. Passionate. Extreme. Many times in the book where Sara breaks down she says “I can’t let her die”. Ever since Kate was diagnosed, Sara’s believed it was her sole responsibility to make sure Kate survives, which is fair enough, I’m sure any parent would do the same in that situation. But she takes it a little too far. “Even if the law says that no one is responsible for anyone else, helping someone who needs it is the right thing to do.” (Quoted by Anna’s court guardian, Julia). This makes Sara sound like the good guy, but in turn tries to guilt trip Anna into making the decision to continue to give Kate what she needs from her body. Sara is singularly focused on Kate, given up on Jesse and doesn’t know what to think of Anna anymore. It’s quite intense reading from the different points of view as obviously from Sara’s she can’t see the reasoning behind Anna’s decision and gets quite upset, so you feel for her, but then on the other hand from Anna’s we see how forceful and shocking her decisions are and you’re completely flipped again.
In comparison with Anna’s compliancy, Jesse’s rather the opposite being quite deviant in order to rebel against his family. He’s the forgotten force in the equation: Anna’s life = Kate’s life. And while everyone’s so busy with the girls, they forget about him. He lives above the garage where he can get up to whatever he wants, it seems that his problems don’t quite match up to those of his sisters so he’s left to fend for himself. It’s fascinating to see that he gets a kick out of lighting the odd fire here and there with a Father who’s a fire fighter. It gives the impression that he’s rebeling more on a personal level against his parents, rather then just in general.
This book is so full of issues and problems and controversy that you almost forget about Kate, and how she’s near death. Each character is so focused on the issue, they forget about the reason behind it all. It’s a huge call to think about what you’d do if you were in any of their shoes, one I’d rather not have to face! But in saying that it’s made me think about decisions I make and what and who they affect – not just myself. And the huge twist at the end – almost solves the whole issue, while still being heartbreaking (plus it’s different from the movie (!!??!!)). So on a whole I recommend this book above and beyond, very very good book.