Review: My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

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I’ll admit that my mind was made up on this one before I even picked it up: this is not my type of book and Jodi Picoult is not my type of author. Not to mention that the recommendations on the back cover are sourced from Heat, Woman’s Weekly and Good Housekeeping.

After I got over that first wave of cynicism or bookish snobbery, call it what you will, I started to read. Initially, the prose felt flat and I couldn’t quite get to grips with the fact that the narrator, Anna, is a 13-year old girl who seemed unconvincing, unreliable (by her own admission) and childish:

I fluff my pillows up under my bed. Kate as usual, has swapped so that she has all the funchy ones that don’t feel like rocks under your neck. She’s supposed to deserve this, because she’s three years older than me or because she’s sick or because the moon is in Aquarius – there’s always a reason.

However, this struggle between maturity and immaturity, responsibility and irresponsibility becomes integral to the story. Moreover, when I arrived at the next chapter, I found that the book is narrated not just by Anna, but by several characters (I breathe a sigh of relief). The multi-character narration adds a much-needed  three-dimensionality to the story, and is a complete success. I began to think that I may have been entirely wrong in my judgement about this book.

Though I was not yet entirely convinced. I resented Picoult’s consistently obvious and deliberate attempts to coerce the reader into feeling emotional. The words, “cry!! cry!!” seemed to seep out of the white space between the words. But cry is exactly what I did. On page 34 to be precise. And despite feeling a tad cheated and ashamed, I read on.

My Sister’s Keeper tells the story of designer-baby, Anna, who was conceived by Sara and Brian solely to save the life of their other daughter Kate, who is suffering from acute promyelocytic leukemia. The original intention was to harvest blood from Anna’s umbilical cord, however after Kate suffers several relapses, Anna is used as a donor time and time again. At the age of thirteen, and at the end of the first chapter, Anna hires a lawyer to sue her parents for the rights to her own body.

The book doesn’t mess Continue reading


Review: And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell

As part of this years Banned Books Week in the US, I decided to read a couple of books from the ALA’s list of most-challenged books. One of these books, And Tango Makes Three, has been challenged and banned “for homosexuality, anti-family, and unsuited to age group.”

Amazon delivered it promptly this week, and I’ve spent the past couple of days mulling it over. Co-written by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, the story revolves around two chinstrap penguins, Roy and Silo, who love each other dearly. Roy and Silo are both boys.

Okay, so when I heard about the controversy surrounding this story, I thought, “what a big hullabaloo!”. Introducing children to the reality of same-sex relationships at an early age would surely discourage homophobic idiocy in later life.

What about kids who have two mummies or two daddies? Unlike the stories about princes and princesses, And Tango Makes Three gives children of same-sex relationships something to relate to and identify with.

One of the reasons homophobic tension exists is because children are unfamiliar with it; they fear and consequently hate what they do not know. Tango Makes Three could be integral to improving attitudes towards homosexuality.

Yet, I am surprised. I expected to be writing a post that 100% rubbished all claims for this book to be banned, but I’d be lying if I said Continue reading

Banned Books Week 2010

So, it’s the end of Banned Books Week 2010 in the US. This time last week, I didn’t know such a week existed, but it’s been fab to see so many people get behind what is an undoubtedly worthy cause. And so I leave you with this:

Coming soon (well, as soon as Amazon deliver them): reviews of My Sister’s Keeper and Three Makes Tango, as part of my plan to read some of the most recently challenged books in the US…

Lauren Myracle: SUM GR8 ADVCE…


Sorry, I can’t do it. While I don’t particularly agree with Lauren Myracle’s style of writing, the author of L8r, g8r offers some sound advice on Banned Books Week:

If you want to join the conversation do this: read one of the titles on the current list of most frequently-challenged books. Then pass the book along to someone else, whether that someone is an adult or a kid. Then, together, talk about the book openly and with mutual respect for each other’s opinions. Do that, and you will have made the world a better place.

So, to wrap up Banned Books Week this year, I take up this challenge! I should probably get stuck into Myracles ttyl, ttfn, L8r g8r series, (the number one most challenged book) but I don’t even know what “ttyl” and “ttfn” even means in text-speak. So I’m bypassing that.

And since I’ve read the classics on the list already, The Color Purple and To Kill A Mockingbird (have no idea why they’re on it!), I’ve decided to choose something that I wouldnt normally read: Jodi Picoult, My Sisters Keeper, and childrens’ book And Tango Makes Three.

Look out for the reveiws and discussions coming soon. Get involved!

Find the list here.

Ban Harry Potter: has the world gone mad?

I’ve been rummaging around Banned Book Week blogs and news stories only to find that the world has gone mad. Completely insane.

Sponsor of Banned Books Week, American Library Association (ALA), states that:

According to the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), due to book challenges, more than a book a day faces removal from public access in school and public libraries. Challenges are defined as formal, written complaints filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.

I did not realise this. According to the OIF, most of the challenges are recieved from parents (61%). But I cannot get my head around the logic. While kids are carjacking with guns in the latest Grand Theft Auto or playing gangsta’ in 50 Cent: Bulletproof, we’re running around trying to ban Harry Potter for his offensive use of Wizardry! Continue reading

It’s Banned Books Week!! (25 September − 2 October)

Since this week is Banned Books Week in the US, I thought I’d take the time to reflect on the most ridiculous case of book banning this year:

Annabel Lyon’s The Golden Mead was BANNED, yes CENSORED, from the bookshops of BC Ferries (British Columbia Ferry Services Inc.) in Canada because the front cover has a picture of a naked bum on it… (Alexander the Great’s bum to be more precise).

New Yorker blogger Eileen Reynolds deemed the censorship as “particularly silly” – no kidding. Since when did the image of a naked man draped across a white horse become offensive? Continue reading