July 2010: Take a break from the mess of weaning to read a book and waffle about its meaning

(19 Posts)
CakeandRoses Sun 20-Feb-11 23:28:48

Hey Book Groupies!

Here's our thread to motivate us to clear the fog of baby brain and get reading.

Each book I'll try to google gather some questions or discussion starters to kick things off but feel free to meander where you want in terms of talking about plot, characters, themes, writing style, quality of writing and any personal chord it struck with you.

Happy reading :D

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CakeandRoses Sun 20-Feb-11 23:30:13

Feb 2011: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Book Club Discussion Questions:

Reread the prologue to My Sister's Keeper. Who is speaking? Is that who you thought was speaking the first time you read it?

My Sister's Keeper is told from many different viewpoints. Why do you think Jodi Picoult wrote it this way? How did hearing from each character change your opinions of them and of the situation?

Do you think Sara is a good mother? Do you sympathize with her? How does her martyrdom affect the rest of the family?

Discuss the consequences of the trial other than the ruling. In what ways does it force people to deal with issues in their relationships? Sara and Brian? Anna and her parents? Julia and Campbell?

Why does Jesse burn things? Is Jesse the opposite of his firefighter father or are they similar? In what ways?

Discuss the ways each family member copes with their situation. How are each of their identities affected by Kate? How does this affect Kate?

Why did Kate ask Anna to sue for medical emancipation? Was Anna right to listen to her wishes?

Do you think it is ethical to have a "designer baby" like Anna was?

The epilogue talks about how the family moved on. How did they grieve? How did they survive? In what ways did Anna give life back to all of them, not just Kate?

Rate My Sister's Keeper on a scale of 1 to 5.

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MyLifeIsChaotic Thu 24-Feb-11 15:11:39

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Chulita Thu 24-Feb-11 19:33:58

I didn't like the characters much but I did think that the way the Sarah came across in her own thoughts/words made her actions a lot more understandable. I think before she started her narrative I was thinking it was really unfair the way Anna had to undergo so many procedures but then after a few of Sarah's spiels I began to see just why she was doing it.

I saw the 'Kate asked me to' coming a mile off but then maybe you're supposed to.

I'd rate it a 3 I think, it wasn't rubbish but I didn't like it and I think the tragic ending made it all seem completely pointless in a 'why did I bother reading this?' way.

MyLifeIsChaotic Thu 24-Feb-11 20:17:25

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Dylthan Fri 25-Feb-11 13:49:23

I read this book ages ago but looking at those questions I seem to have forgotten huge chunks of it.

I've read a couple of Jodie picoult books and the characters all seem to be the same. She takes a subject that will make a good debate but that's about where her books end being good.

I don't find them very well written and the characters are too one dimensional to properly care about imo.

I've finally gotten round to ordering my kindle I'm so excited I may pop!! So hopefully if it comes in time I will actually of read our next book club book blush

MyLifeIsChaotic Fri 25-Feb-11 18:01:18

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CakeandRoses Sat 26-Feb-11 00:02:46

Literally just finished the book, at last. Not really sure what i thought of it, need to ponder it a bit first.

Will post properly tomorrow.

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CakeandRoses Sun 27-Feb-11 22:31:57

Reread the prologue to My Sister's Keeper. Who is speaking? Is that who you thought was speaking the first time you read it?
cake i'm a bit baffled by this tbh, initially it's meant to be anna and then i guess kate but it seems odd.

My Sister's Keeper is told from many different viewpoints. Why do you think Jodi Picoult wrote it this way? How did hearing from each character change your opinions of them and of the situation?
Cake: It was 'good' to read the different viewpoints as it made me rethink my opinions a few times although i also think it's a slightly lazy way for a writer to achieve this. i think there could be a subtler way of revealing the different characters' motivations than to keep switching viewpoints.

Do you think Sara is a good mother? Do you sympathize with her? How does her martyrdom affect the rest of the family?
Cake: it's a case of there but for the grace of god, go i. she's not been a terrific mother to all three of them but i can't say i'd do any better in those circumstances. i'm not sure i'd call her the martyr tho, anna's (and in a strange way Kate too) the one who has been martyred. A weird part of the book is the dresses that Sara orders and sends back - it's mentioned at the start and never again after, and in hindsight seems odd and out of character.

Discuss the consequences of the trial other than the ruling. In what ways does it force people to deal with issues in their relationships? Sara and Brian? Anna and her parents? Julia and Campbell?
Cake: One of my favourite parts of the book was Sara and Brian 'finding each other' again [old romantic emoticon].

Why does Jesse burn things? Is Jesse the opposite of his firefighter father or are they similar? In what ways?
Cake: i found this one of the annoyingly 'neat' and obvious bits of the book as you guys said above.

Discuss the ways each family member copes with their situation. How are each of their identities affected by Kate? How does this affect Kate?
Cake I found the way their whole family unit's pretty much destroyed by Kate's illness so depressing. I probably wouldn't have finished the book if it hadn't been for the book group for this reason, tbh.

Why did Kate ask Anna to sue for medical emancipation? Was Anna right to listen to her wishes?
Cake: I don't think Kate did ask her to sue, she just asked her not to donate the kidney iirc. I'd say Kate wanted to be free of the pain and operations and also wanted Anna to live her own life. I think Anna did the only thing she thought she could do.

Do you think it is ethical to have a "designer baby" like Anna was?
Cake i'm not sure about this but i can't say i wouldn't do it myself in the same desperate situation. what do you lot think?

The epilogue talks about how the family moved on. How did they grieve? How did they survive? In what ways did Anna give life back to all of them, not just Kate?
cake i really disliked Anna conveniently dying so i kinda glossed over the epilogue whilst wearing a hmm face

Rate My Sister's Keeper on a scale of 1 to 5.
cake i'd agree with chulita and say a 3. it's not a bad book and some parts are well written but i didn't personally warm to it.

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Chulita Mon 28-Feb-11 14:44:42

I don't think I would have a 'designer baby'. I don't reckon it's ethical. I love both my lovelies and I would do a hell of a lot to protect them/care for them but to actively conceive a baby specifically in order to keep their older sibling alive is not right imo. That child would be subjected to so much without their consent and in a way they could feel very unloved - or loved only in as much as they can keep their sibling alive.

As to whether Kate asked Anna to sue, I find it all very dubious. Anna was 13, Kate asked her the day before she turned up at the chap's office and yet she had all the background of who he'd represented in the past hmm
The dress thing with Sarah was pointless and should've been brought up again if it was important or not mentioned in the first place if it wasn't.

The way the family moved on was predictable. Anna didn't give them back life, Kate did. The family revolved around Kate and her illness so when she was cured they could all get back to living instead of waiting for Kate to die.

CakeandRoses Mon 28-Feb-11 19:47:42

yy but chulita, initially they thought it would only be the cord cells they'd be taking, which wouldn't affect the baby. it was only further down the line that it came about that other stuff was needed.

actually that's another failing of the book. surely in those circs the docs would have mentioned prognosis and potential treatment (ie taking bone marrow etc) whereas the book makes out that that wasn't planned.

if i thought i could 'cure' one of my two by taking cord blood from a future baby then maybe i would do it.

actually i've confused myself now - they created anna to be a perfect genetic match so they must have been planning at the outset to take marrow etc from her at some point and yet that wasn't the impression i got (from the court case?)

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Dylthan Mon 28-Feb-11 20:06:11

As un ethical as it is if I'm honest I don't think I would rule it out if either of my two became ill sad although I do find the idea of designer babies abhorrent.

Their are companies that will take and store your babies stem cells from the umbilical cord just after they are born. From what I remember as well as being in storage for if your baby ever needed them in their life they could also be used for their siblings if they were a match.

We did seriously consider it while expecting bethan but it wasn't cheap as you would expect so wasn't really an option for us. But I do think it's a good idea and would of liked to of done it.

MyLifeIsChaotic Mon 28-Feb-11 20:35:51

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CakeandRoses Mon 28-Feb-11 22:09:11

1 is very harsh, mlic grin, it does sound like you detested it so i applaud you getting thru it!

i actually think she's a talented writer but appears to take lazy plot shortcuts. Some of the passages were pretty moving and evocative. I didn't enjoy it more due to the depressing nature of it than the writing quality.

what did you think of the quality?

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CakeandRoses Mon 28-Feb-11 22:10:37

agree with you about the characters actually too. i really didn't take to most of them and only liked anna and campbell (and his dog of course)

oh and it was me who mentioned the dresses first NOT chul wink

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MyLifeIsChaotic Tue 01-Mar-11 09:12:53

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Chulita Tue 01-Mar-11 15:53:14

Obviously my comment about the dresses was far more memorable wink

Deffo the dog was my fave character too. Campbell struck me as a smart arse.

I don't think the quality was much good tbh. It was one of those books where I think I probably could've written it better (not that I could but it felt like that)
I think the ending was limp and predictable. Far better to have let it run with Anna staying alive and having to face the consequences of her actions and maybe working through what the family did after that. Anna dying was just the easiest way to get around the tension between Anna and Sarah and Sarah and Brian. Jesse magically not wanting to burn stuff anymore was as lame as him being an arsonist. I think they were crap parents to him, letting him move out and do his own thing even though they knew he was breaking the law hmm

The next book's arrived so I'll start that tonight and see if it's any better!

CakeandRoses Wed 02-Mar-11 12:40:40

List of all books this year:

The Road - Cormac McCarthy
My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult
My Best Friend's Girl - Dorothy Koomson
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini*
The Pursuit of Happiness - Douglas Kennedy
The Rotter' Club - Jonathan Coe
The Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham
Fortune's Rocks - Anita Shreve
The Island - Victoria Hislop
Blackberry Wine - Joanne Harris
Camberwell Beauty - Jenny Éclair
Gardens of Delight - Erica James
White Teeth - Zadie Smith

Thoughts?

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MyLifeIsChaotic Sat 05-Mar-11 18:37:07

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