Why I Re-Read the Book My Sister’s Keeper

I don’t normally re-read books, especially fictional ones. Minus a phase where I re-read The Secret Garden, Little Women and the Anne of Green Gables series over and over, I don’t normally find the need to re-read a story that isn’t/wasn’t real. I have re-read a few parenting books (and am planning to re-read The No-Cry Potty Training Solution in the near future). I have re-read a few adoption related books (Lifegivers and The Girls Who Went Away). And I re-read childrens’ books umpteen times per day. But fictional adult books? I don’t think I’ve done it since that infatuation with the above mentioned young-girl escapism type books.

I chose to re-read My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult last week for a number of reasons. It remains one of my favorite books (despite not being overly impressed with some of her other novels). I read it back when it was first released and I have loved the drama, the concepts presents and the twist at the end. I loved getting involved with the book. But I had forgotten some things over the years and so I decided to sit down with the book once again since the movie was released in theaters today.

I had forgotten that the husband in the book was a firefighter. To be fair, as I read this book before FireDad was hired on the department (remember, he got hired just after we were married), I wasn’t really indoctrinated into the fire life just yet. Reading it this time, I found myself nodding my head at some of the mentions of fire life. You know, except for the part where Brian, the father, has Anna, the daughter asking for medical emancipation from her parents, move into the fire department with him. Sorry. Not going to happen in real life.

I had forgotten the questions the book made me ask, back before I was parenting these two boys. I asked them aloud this time, involving FireDad in my internal back-and-forth, whether we would ever consider bringing another child into our lives to save one of the boys. (Not that I can carry another child.) Or, even without that, would we force one of our existing children to donate anything to another if the child in question had reservations or simply didn’t want to do it. We had some interesting discussions, the two of us, as I quickly devoured the pages in the book once more.

There were quotes in the book that struck me this time around, ones that maybe I thought of last time but I was in a different place. I dog-eared the pages of my book this time around (yes, I’m that reader) and have considered each of them deeply. One quote, a paragraph, spoke to me deeply.

It would have been better, of course, if Luisa, had been in her own room, as her mother expected. But kids don’t always stay where they’re supposed to. You turn around and find her not in the bedroom but hiding in a closet; you turn around and she’s not three but thirteen. Parenting is really just a matter of tracking, of hoping your kids to not get so far ahead you can no longer see their next moves.

I mean, isn’t that true? That, combined with a trio of sentence just down the page from the above set of truths really blew me away.

I became a firefighter because I wanted to save people. But I should have been more specific. I should have named names.

Ah, yes.

I’ll be honest, I’m not thrilled about the book being turned into a movie. I rarely (and I do mean rarely) like the movie more than the book. In fact, more often than not, I hate the movie because it is so rarely a true representation of the written word. This movie, so far, is no different. As an example, the mother in the book is a brunette. Cameron Diaz, my least favorite actress on today’s scene, is not a brunette. Nor do I feel she will be able to do this part justice despite the rave reviews she is getting from critics. (I also rarely agree with the critics, mind you.)

When you combine my dislike of the actress portraying the mother with the fact that THEY CHANGED THE ENDING, well, I find little room for hope. The ending of this book makes the book. The ending of this story makes the story. Without this ending, the way that it is written, the book would still be well-written and intriguing. But it wouldn’t push you to that brink, to question everything you just read, to question life as it is. It wouldn’t make you catch your breath, shake your fist at God and generally dissolve into a puddle of tears. If you change the ending, you change the book. And while Picoult was very gracious in her USA Today interview about the change of ending, had it been me, I would have said something like, “I wash my hands of it.” And then I would have spat at the ground.

I’m nothing if not dramatic, no?

I will likely wait until the movie comes out on DVD before subjecting myself to what I imagine to be two hours of drinding my teeth every time Cameron Diaz opens her mouth. I will try to avoid spoilers of the changed ending but, knowing the internet, someone will offer one when I am least expecting it, hiding it behind a click of something else entirely. I will see the movie because I am a glutton for punishment, a book lover who will want to see if, in the end, they did one of her favorites justice on the Silver Screen. But I fear the results, of course.

Just as I sat in fear of the end of the book during my re-read. And I knew what was coming. I prefer it that way, really.

 

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13 Replies to “Why I Re-Read the Book My Sister’s Keeper”

  1. This is exactly why I am going to watch it on DVD first and then read the book. I’m always horribly disappointed when books go to movie.

    I snorted my drink when reading this. I have a serious dislike for Cameron Diaz as well. She reminds me of my high school “best friend and maid of honor”. I mean the person that wanted to pretend to be my friend and was so fake cause life was all about her. They look almost exactly a like and we are all the same age.

    Plus I really don’t think that woman can act to save her life. Her agent bites too. Did you read In Her Shoes? Yet another book/movie completely changed. The book was about the brunette sister, not Cameron Diaz’s character. DOH Hollywood rewrote it to be all about the stupid blonde. Sorry, I’m ornery. lol

    1. I really think I would have liked In Her Shoes with someone else. Yes, it was changed greatly but it possessed potential. It failed miserably, however, with Diaz. Bah!

  2. I’ve been wondering about this book ever since first seeing the commercials for the movie. If I decide to read it, I know I’ll have to do that first! Like you, I rarely like movies based on books I’ve enjoyed (although I do find if I watch them more than once I can be a little less hard on them and accept them for what they are). But this definitely sounds like an intriguing story.

  3. I just read that book last week while I was at the beach. Fortunately, I read the ending as I was getting ready to sleep. If I would have read it in public, I would have looked like a fool bawling my eyes out.

    I, too, am afraid to watch the movie now. And, ummm, they changed the ending?! That alone ruins it before I even see it, but of course I’ll end up watching it and complaining after. Lol.

  4. I just read the book for the first time and loved it. Just as you say, it took my breath away – to question everything you think you know and think you understand.

    However, I am a bit horrified that they changed the ending for the movie. I just don’t see how it can be compelling that way.
    .-= ClassyFabSarah´s last blog ..Bloggy Bake-Off =-.

    1. I’m having a friend who commented below email me with the changed ending after she reads it tonight. (I don’t mind spoiled movies but I hate spoiled books. Is that silly? Is it because it takes longer to read a book than watch a movie? Perhaps.) Anyway, glad you loved the book, too!

  5. I agree with you! It’s still my favorite book (I do like most of her others, though) and when I heard that they changed the ending, I wondered what idiot thought THAT one up. I’ll go see it because I cannot help myself, but I’m already set to be disappointed. And I know, given the short timeframe of the movie, that the father and brother’s stories will be given NO coverage and they really added to the book in my opinion.

    1. I’ve only read three others because I had two in a row (not sure which at this point) that were rather lackluster. I’m on the waiting list at the library for her most recent book, though I’ve heard it should be a hard read for me for various reasons.

      And I’ll be you are right that they don’t pay enough attention to the dad and the father. I thought, especially this second time around, that they really “made” the book. Good point!

  6. You gave me a good idea, to read the book over again. I read it when it first came out too. For some reason I even remember picking it out and buying it because, although I can’t remember my times tables, I can remember totally unnecessary things. I think my views on the decisions made in the book might change now that I’m a mother. Plus it was the first Picoult book I read, thus my favorite. I won’t be seeing this in the theaters as I also never love movies based on books. Don’t need to waste that much money when I can wait for redbox to have it for a buck.
    .-= Kristen´s last blog ..stupid bumper stickers =-.

  7. Must’ve missed this post! I’m supposed to go see this movie with my mom in a few hours and I’m curious about it, mainly because I HATED the twist at the end of the book. It bothered me so much. And after reading more Jodi Picoult books, it seems like most of them follow the same pattern and it gets tiresome to read. I literally groaned when I read her last book because her unpredictable twists have now become predictable.

    Anyway, I might need to reread this book after the movie (since it’s too late to reread it now). But it does remain one of my favorite books also.
    .-= Ari´s last blog ..And now I’m broke… =-.

    1. Ari; Could you pretty please drop me an email after you see this movie? I give you permission to ruin the ending for me since I’m pretty sure I’ve already, accidentally-on-purpose, come across the change that they make.

      Thanks! (And enjoy!)

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