Friday, February 19, 2010

My Sister's Keeper

Since I'm on my Jodi Picoult run, I had to read her most popular book, My Sister's Keeper. I also wanted to read it so that I could compare it with the movie out that is based on the book. Yuck, what a joke that was.

The book was not a mistake to read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought the characters were well crafted, and I liked reading from each perspective. Each one had his or her own voice that was interesting to see. Especially with such a controversial topic, cloning, and when there are sides to a story, it was very cool to get inside the head of different people on either side of the story.

Essentially, My Sister's Keeper is about a thirteen year old girl named Anna who wants to become medically emancipated from her parents. Anna was created by means of cloning so that she could donate parts of herself to her older sister Kate who has leukemia. Unfortunately, as Kate's disease progresses, she becomes in need of a kidney. This is when Anna seeks out legal help from Campbell Alexander who takes her on as a client.

Anna's mother Sara is appalled, always being the advocate for Kate, and decides to fight against them since she is a lawyer. Brian, the father, has a difficult time pleasing both parties as he does want his daughter to survive but he also wants his other daughter to have a choice. The oldest son Jesse struggles with being recognized. Starving for attention, he sets houses on fire to try to get people to recognize him and to try to mask his suffering. Ironically enough, his father Brian is a firefighter, and he soon catches him and puts a stop to his attention-seeking behavior.

In the midst of the case and the trial, a guardian ad litem is appointed to Anna. Her name is Julia Romano, and she is the old, first love of Campbell Alexander, ironically enough. The two of them have to work together on the case, and even though it starts out rough and heated, they slowly fall back into love. The twist with Campbell is that he is driven on his career and has a service dog named Judge. What he needs the service dog for is unknown until the end. When people ask what it is for, Campbell makes up a different lie every time to shield himself from his actual problems.

In the end, Campbell reveals his problem when he has a seizure in court. It is then learned that he has epilepsy, and his main reason to take on Anna for no financial gain whatsoever is that he realizes what it is like to have no control over your body. Hm. Interesting.

Spoiler coming...

Anyway, the ending really through me off guard. First, Anna expels why she brought this all the way to trial: Kate wants to die. The only way for Anna not to give her kidney to Kate would be to literally fight off her mother with a lawsuit. Kate is sick of fighting for her life and just wants to slowly give up and let the disease overrun her body like it's been doing for the past fourteen years. She wants her family to start living their lives instead of revolving theirs around hers. What an intense scene that was!

After that twist, the judge discusses it with Kate and grants the victory to Campbell and Anna. But, here comes the REAL twist: on the way home from the trial, Campbell and Anna get into a horrific and fatal car accident. Campbell walks away hardly harmed, but Anna is left braindead. The doctor asks for them to consider organ donation... Just like Kate needed. It is then decided to save Kate with Anna's organs since Anna has no chance at a real life.

Woa. Never saw that one coming. Kate ends up living on instead of Anna, what we all pictured. I don't know if it's genius to write the exact opposite ending that we envisioned or what. I don't know if I love it or hate it.

You know, thinking about it, it's probably the best way it could have been done. Instead of going with the predictability of the leukemia patient dying, we go with the healthy thirteen year old. No one expects her to die. She lives her life without thinking of death and has no attention paid to her, yet she is the one who dies. It makes her parents think about all of the time and attention and devotion paid to Kate when they actually spent far less time and focus on Anna, the one who really does die. If anything, this is the way their parents truly do learn. And then Kate gets a new perspective on life and starts living for something since she was granted this second chance. Not too bad, now that I really ponder it.

And maybe I've come to this conclusion because of the filthy, trashy, atrocious excuse for a movie they created out of this. Yuck, what a waste of time. Not only were their Blockbuster choices for actors horrible and off-base (I mean, who buys Cameron Diaz as Sara let along the HORRIBLE choice of Alec Baldwin as Campbell; I love Alec tremendously, but he's no bachelor lawyer of Campbell--try Jude Law maybe), but the differences were overwhelming. They left out so much and twisted the plot so much that it hardly resembled the book.

First of all, Jesse had no issue with burning down houses. His character was too soft in the movie and looked too young and hurt. Jesse is supposed to be angry and not give a damn, not look like a wounded puppy. He smokes cigarettes, drinks, drives around random places, makes scenes, and burns down houses. The Jesse in the movie looked like a nice kid in the back of the classroom. Poor choice.

Then, they didn't even include Julia Romano's character. Julia makes Campbell interesting. Now we just have a lawyer who cares, not one who is struggling over the past and future. Why not throw a romance into it? Julia was central to the book, but they edited her out to add more unnecessary scenes to the family. Barf.

Lastly, THE ENDING??? I don't know where to begin here. What an atrocity! The ending was the COMPLETE opposite of the book's ending. Instead of Anna dying, they have Kate give up and die in the hospital. This COMPLETELY changes the meaning of the book, which in turn is a slap in the face to Jodi Picoult and her message. How did she let this happen?

I discussed previously the original ending's message. With this new ending, it's giving way to what we all thought originally. BORING. Not only that, but it excuses the parents' behavior to isolate and focus on one child. They don't learn anything by their daughter dying of cancer. It's the easy way out for their characters. There's no growth. It's easy, it's expected, it's Blockbuster. In the book, the parents go through depression and their own problems to cope, which they eventually will come out of. They realized their mistakes and are trying to cope and figure out life's true meanings.

By having Kate tell the story, in the epilogue of the book, we FINALLY hear her voice. This is the first and last time we hear from her, which is symbolic in itself. She now can speak, is heard, and wants to live. Instead of giving up on life, he fights to stay alive. Kate has a new perspective on life. She doesn't want to commit suicide; she now wants to live. By the moving killing her, it's basically okay-ing her suicide plot which should NOT be the message of the film. That is a horrible message to send to viewers. That is not what the message was intended to be.

Spoiler is over.

If you've read the book, don't even bother watching the movie unless you want to become critical or angered, like I have here. I wonder if Jodi Picoult had any sort of voice towards this film or if you just sell your rights to your book and whatever happens happens. If that's true, I'm very disturbed.

The book was well done, but not the movie. Tsk Tsk.

Stay tuned for my ideas on Change of Heart which will come soon. Hopefully I can find more time to write as I am now bogged down in the world of having a real job. Hopefully I can pick up this blog habit that I do so enjoy. Smile.

So what do you think of My Sister's Keeper?


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Anonymous said...

Hmm that's quiet interessting but actually i have a hard time visualizing it... I'm wondering what others have to say....

Anonymous said...

Spoiler Alert:

I felt the same way about the ending to the novel. The lesson mainly in my mind though was for the mother who seemingly only thought of Anna as Kate's spare parts and not an actual person. I didn't like the fact that the movie left out Julia because her relationship with Campbell gave him more depth as a character rather than two dimensional as he appears in the movie (also the fact that Alec Baldwin is around 20 years older than what Campbell's age is in the book). For Campbell it's not about the reason why he has Judge, but why he feels he needs to hide everything from everyone and when Julia walks back into his life he is forced to confront his feelings and the fact that he never got over her realising that if he has any hope of repairing relationship he needed to tell her the truth.

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The book is amazing, one of the best readings I have had in a long time, excellent review of an excellent book.

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The problem with movies based on book specially for people that they read the book. It is that it can't fulfill the reader wishes that it have the most content of the book without modification and it can be the same way with everybook because there are some part that they turn more boring when you look at them instead of reading them.

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My Sister's Keeper is a popular book but I think there are a lot of other good books of this author, I' like to read all of them because she's a good writer.

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