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.
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.