Editor's Note: Earlier, we poked a little fun at My Sister's Keeper. So, in the interest of fair play, here's another take.
A few years ago I read one of those books. The kind you can't put down even though you recognize the flaws and know it can't end well.
Maybe I picked it up because it was there -- I had received it as a Christmas gift -- maybe I kept reading it because it made me feel less
bad about some of my own parenting decisions or maybe because it actually is a good, if heartbreaking, story. Whatever the reasons,
Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper grabbed and kept my attention despite its subject matter
and even after I (correctly) figured out how it would end.
I should not have been surprised to learn it was being made into a film. The book, a family drama, reads as if cinema were the medium the author had in mind to begin with. Doesn't this synopsis from the writer's website read like a trailer voice-over?
Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate -- a life and a role that she has never questioned ... until now.
My Sister's Keeper is a natural story for the big screen, especially in this day and age. Because we live in an
era in which death has been made to seem unnatural, despite its inevitability and despite the fact that cancer, in its seemingly
endless varieties, touches every family, devouring the youngest to oldest members, and because science has made the previously unimaginable
possible, this story resonates. It almost forces one to wonder, "What would I do if I were these parents, these children?" And even if
we think we know, I'll bet most folks will wrestle with their "decision" even after it's been made. I predict that this is a film
people will not only watch (I'll probably take my girls, ages 13 and 11), but they'll also think and talk about it for a long time after they
leave the theater -- especially if the film retains the book's ending, which I hope it does.
Some people may not see this film because it looks like a downer; however, I don't think the subject matter will keep viewers away
in droves. Remember 1980's Ordinary People and 1983's
Terms of Endearment? Both were critical, as well as box office, successes.
So far, all I've seen are a couple of My Sister's Keeper trailers
(view here) and I have to tell you,
each time I do (and I'm guilty of hitting replay, repeatedly) I tear up. I am the mother of two beautiful, strong, intelligent and, thank God, healthy daughters
and one equally magnificent son, who love each other fiercely, and I can't help but think of them while watching those trailers.
Which is, I am certain, exactly the reaction director Nick Cassavetes and the
folks at New Line Cinema are hoping for; they want viewers to connect with the film's characters and care enough about them to go to theaters to find out what becomes of them. Mission accomplished. Whether or not the connection will survive a viewing of the film as a whole is uncertain but, because of the trailer, I'm willing to give it a try.