If you’re looking for a page-turner to immerse yourself in, for these last dwindling days of summer, look no further than Jodi Picoult.
Her novels are about relationships, families, and loss. And you can usually find a controversial moral dilemma at the heart of her novels. Jodi Picoult is the author of eighteen novels (something that I admire but also astounds me) of which I’ve so far read a few. My favorite of those I’ve read is My Sister’s Keeper.
Like many of Picoult’s books, My Sister’s Keeper is one that will make the world fall away and keep you reading for hours. Picoult explores the controversial topic of stem cell research and so-called “designer babies.” Genetically engineering a baby to ensure the presence or absence or particular characteristics is a tricky topic, but what if a baby’s genes are specifically chosen to donate blood, marrow and organs to her sick sibling? Picoult takes an already controversial topic and turns it on its head.
My Sister’s Keeper is full of complex characters, particularly Sara, the mother of the Fitzgerald family, who is easy to simultaneously criticize and empathize with. She loves her children fiercely, yet devotes so much of herself to her daughter’s illness, it’s as though she sometimes forgets she has two other children with problems of their own.
Picoult’s writing is as thought-provoking as it is knowledgeable, her vocabulary ranging from medical-jargon and legal proceedings to astronomy and arson. It’s clear that this novel is thorough and well-researched, something that, as a writer, I appreciate.
Perhaps what I find most enjoyable about Picoult’s writing is the way she masterfully tells the story alternately from the point of view of six different characters in the book. She transitions seamlessly from one character to another, portraying the affect one child’s illness has had on an entire family. I admire Picoult’s ability to transcend gender lines and write believably as a male or female narrator – not always an easy feat.
After reading several of her novels it’s hard not to notice the similarities in the story lines: in many of her books you’re likely to read about a legal battle, a unraveling relationship teetering on the verge of divorce and/or an illness. But Jodi Picoult knows what she does well and thoroughly researches each topic so that it feels genuine down to the last detail.
And Jodi’s characters stay with you, their stories lingering in your memory long after you’ve put the book down.