This is a reread for me and I distinctly remember not liking it the first time because of the ending. It was bad enough to ruin the entire novel! This time, I had some time and space to get used to the idea, but still vaguely knew the outcome would be disappointing, so I felt I could look at it differently.
This is a story of a family torn apart by cancer. Kate has a rare and aggressive form of cancer which means she responds to each treatment only once before it becomes obsolete. Anna is a “designer baby” born to provide umbilical cord blood (and later other organs) to her older sister. Jesse, not a matched donor for Kate, is their largely forgotten and deeply troubled older brother. Their parents, Sara and Brian, a former lawyer and a fire chief respectively, try to keep their lives normal while also dealing with the unpredictability and impending loss of a child. The plot centers on a lawsuit Anna brings against her parents which would permit her to be medically emancipated so she would no longer be required to use her body as a healthy organ farm for Kate.
Fortunately, I have to say I’ve never been in the position of these parents and would never want to be. Therefore, it is easy to criticize these parents, particularly mom Sara, for her insensitivity toward Anna and Jesse. I don’t like her much throughout the novel, but I do understand she is in a difficult position. When Dad takes Anna’s side in the case, I wonder how this family will ever be repaired even if Kate lives.
All of this is works itself out in a wonderfully heart wrenching legal drama in which we hear very little from Kate herself. Ethically, we wonder if Anna can be required to donate parts of her own body to her sister? But realistically, how can she deny them and still live with herself and her family members if refusing means her sister will die? Fraught with tension and emotion, I LOVE the first parts of this book; the end is a craptastic cop-out on the part of the author. It seems dear Jodi wasn’t sure how to solve this conundrum she’s created in a BELIEVABLE way and thus took the easy way out which totally pisses me off. This time, although I knew the stupid ending was coming and could even see the foreshadowing signs (repeated use of “It was raining,”) which indicated the impending plot twist, it still hit me like a ton of bricks. NOT COOL, JODI. NOT COOL. You resolved nothing in this emotional roller coaster you created and I hate it when authors do that!