The story of My Sister’s Keeper centers on Anna, a 13-year-old girl who was selected via preimplantation genetic diagnosis to be a tissue donor for her older sister, Kate, who suffers from leukemia. The novel opens as Anna begins to challenge the idea that she is a virtually limitless source of spare tissue for Kate, and follows the family struggle that ensues.
The paperback edition I was reading contains a reader’s club guide, which consists of an author interview and a several pages of questions and topics for discussion. In the interview the author states:
sometimes researchers and political candidates get so bogged down in the ethics behind it and the details of the science that they forget completely we’re talking about humans with feelings and emotions and hopes and fears . . . like Anna and her family. I believe we’re all going to be forced to think about these issues within a few years, so why not first in fiction?
Indeed, My Sister’s Keeper raises a number of bioethical issues – designer babies, parental decision making, children as tissue donors – in a way that, to my eye, reads genuinely. Picoult has done us a great service in writing this novel. I recommend it highly.