This book was lent to me as it is not my usual tendency to read fiction bestsellers. I'm also not entirely certain what I think of it.
13 year old Anna Fitzgerald is suing her parents for sole rights to her body and all medical decisions. Anna was conceived and born for the purpose of providing umbilical cells, then marrow and subsequent blood transfusions for her older sister Kate, who has a rare form of leukemia. Anna has now been asked to donate a kidney. Campbell Alexander is the lawyer young Anna solicited and Julia becomes the guardian ad litium - a court appointed overseer so to speak.
Sara is Anna's mother, and she is angered and shattered at the same time as she tries to save the life of her older daughter while the younger one, to all outward appearances wants to kill her sister. Brian, Sara's husband and father to Jesse (the older boy) and the two girls, seems to understand what Anna is doing. Jesse, as a kind of subplot, has become a juvenile delinquent who is smoking pot, doing drugs and setting fires to vacant buildings around town. The family ignores his behavior because Kate's health is more important.
Overall, I found this book to be somewhat trite and melodramatic. Sara runs around in anger telling everyone it's just a misunderstanding, Brian retreats to his job at the fire department where they are trying to figure out who the mystery arsonist is, Anna treats her lawyer like a friend, while the lawyer is quietly pining after Julia - who he met 15 years previous at a private high school and wishes he had married. Campbell also has a service dog, and the author - rather poorly in my opinion - tries to make it a big mystery that Campbell is an epileptic and the dog senses his on coming seizures.
Warning, big spoilers ahead.
The entire story (not including all the flashbacks of which there are a lot) takes place over the coarse of a week. Seems unlikely given the pace of our legal system - anyway, in the big courtroom drama at the end, Brian testifies for Anna, but not really, saying he can't decide between his girls and he breaks down and cries. Sara, representing herself because she was a lawyer 10 years ago, claims she only did what she did because she loves both girls. Campbell has a huge grand mal seizure right in front of Anna as she's testifying it was Kate who put her up to this, that Kate had had enough and if she was going to die, then let her do so with out more harm to Anna. Julia realizes she does truly love Campbell as he's flopping around the courtroom floor. Brian saves Campbell's dignity by getting him to the bathroom. Anna said all she wants is to grant Kate's wish, but that she would donate a kidney if Kate asked.
But it was this ending that really drove home just how much of a soap opera this book became: Brian goes back to work only to get pulled out on a emergency call that two cars collided at an intersection. Upon arriving he finds it's Campbell and Anna. Anna is rushed to the hospital and pronounced brain dead upon arrival - does the family wish to donate any organs? Kate gets her kidney, goes into remission, and graduates against all odds from high school.
I think this could have been a much better book if it wasn't for all the drama. The author touches on some very interesting points, such as creating a child to harvest blood, parts, etc to save another child. It could also have been an interesting examination of how a family copes with such a severe illness, but I felt that most of that was glossed over and dramatized. She also used an interesting technique in that every chapter was written from a different characters point of view, complete with different fonts. Now this was both interesting and annoying as some of the chapters felt like they were stuck in just for fillers and when a new character was introduced I found myself wondering 'where did they just come from?'
Would I recommend this book? No. But keep in mind, fiction bestsellers usually aren't my genre.