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My Sister’s Keeper

This might not be a review of the book that I picked as the title to this post; I would be bringing in several books and some situations that people might think is not related to the story at all, but what the heck.

First of all, I hate Sara Fitzgerald. I was alright with her initially; I didn’t hate her passionately like I did David Henry in the Memory Keeper’s Daughter.

I can totally understand a parent wanting to save their child’s life, but I truly believe that they do really need to let go and be less selfish. I just can’t bring myself to see any other emotion but selfishness when someone tries to keep someone alive when they’re suffering so much. And especially how she keeps reminding Anna that she should always want to save her sister; it’s like she’s been brainwashing the girl. She says that she loves both her daughters, but she sure doesn’t seem like it. The flashbacks when Anna wasn’t around yet showed that she would do absolutely anything to save Kate. And she has consistently showed that Kate takes priority over everyone else. Look how she gave up totally on Jesse. Just because one kid has a terminal disease, it doesn’t discount the other “healthy” kid’s problem. Yes, it is not easy, but to give up totally like that?

And to always assume and not even bother asking; and when you even pretend on asking, you also coerce the child.

And to force such an invasive surgery on your perfectly healthy child to save one that is so sick that even the doctors don’t think it is sane to do so…

Like I said, sometimes you just have to know when to let go.

And I hate how fast she killed Anna; after she has signed the papers. I don’t know; like so… blah. Oh well.

The book is alright; I cried buckets though I doubt I would buy another of Jodi Picoult books.

I used to not be the type that cries when I watch movies or read books. After all, it is not real, is it? They’re just words or just people acting the part.

It all changed when I got a fever when I was 15 and read A Walk to Remember and the Notebook by Nicholas Sparks in one day. I has high temperature with bad cough and flu… I was already recovering that day; the next day I would have to go back to school. However, I started reading A Walk to Remember first, and I just started crying. By the time I finished with the Notebook (really, there was absolutely nothing to do when you’re in bed, nursing a cold. And since I don’t watch telly…), the inside of the tissue box was in the form of balls all around my room and I was coughing badly and my temperature soared…

And when I recovered I got almost all Sparks’s books, and my mother kept it when I was in form5 so that I wouldn’t fall sick again because of all the crying.

Gosh, she was royally pissed when she came back and I was worse instead of better.

And apart from those two, the only book Sparks wrote that I manage to finish till the end is Message in a Bottle. I just couldn’t bring myself to finish the others (though I haven’t started the Rescue at all); I would be crying quite a lot. I’ve absolutely no idea why.

Since then,  I cry when I read books and watch movies.

And my mother bans me from reading any books written by a Nicholas. Wonder if she would let me buy the two Nick Hornby books I want (High Fidelity and About A Boy). Happened because a friend lent me a Nicholas Evans book. I can’t remember the topic and I didn’t finish reading because when I came down to dinner, my eyes were red. My mother asked me to show me the book I was reading, and told me to return it the next day.

She looked so angry, and even though I was already 17, I was shit scared, so I followed what she told me to, and returned the book the next day.

However, one thing good about My Sister’s Keeper is that somehow, it makes me feel like, alright, I’ll read Middlesex again.

I made a vow that I would take about 2 month break from that insane Greek American family and to stop reading a book if there’s anything remotely Greek about it.

Apparently, the Fitzgerald family find Greek to be the most complicated language in the world.

Also, the character Anna’s actual name is Andromeda. Named after the constellation. In the book, it is claimed that she is in between her parents (Cassiopeia and Cepheus. How do I remember these weird names?); don’t remember it that way. And I did try get a constelation map. You just don’t forget how to do the things you used to enjoy when you were young… Anyway, she’s next to the mother; the mother is in between her and the father.

Not a good thing, to me anyway, since I dislike Sara Fitzgerald loads.

The book reminds me of myself when I was about 10; or maybe younger. I’m not sure. I wanted to be an astronomer. I loved looking at the night sky, but alas, it is quite an expensive hobby for a 10 year old. My mother allowed me to get books and charts, but drew the line on getting a telescope, even if it was a toy one. Also, she didn’t have time to do the finding of it.

And then I found out the amount of maths involved. I thought, forget it. I can’t make a career out of something that requires so much maths!! Wouldn’t survive the first day in college!! And true enough, I barely survived my additional mathematics classes. Didn’t help that early of the year when I was in both form4 and 5, something happens; form4 I cut my hand and form5 I got chicken pox. So I missed about two weeks of lessons, and it was not easy to catch up even when you’re someone who’s good with maths. My algebra sucked, even though my calculus and statistics usually saved me from getting zero. And the others; I don’t know their topics. Haha. Calculus is probably why delta’s the only letter of the Greek alphabet I can write and remember the shape till now; both upper and lower cases, though I only use the former nowadays.

I was already hooked with astronomy and stuff; I read up why they named constellation what they named it. Which was how I got into the myths. It was more fascinating and easier to see the constellations when you know about the characters they named the stars with. It also requires a very vivid imagination to impose pictures of people and animal and mythical creatures into the dotted sky.

I tried reading about them from reference books, never managing to discover the actual book that told the story first hand instead of the retellings by academics and what not. It was frustrating. Then, my friend borrowed me one of his books that was a compilation of the heroes’ stories… and the typical bookworm I was, I brought it to one of the many dinners my mother used to drag me since no one was at home to take care of me and she didn’t have time to cook for me. I suppose my table manners was really crap, and instead of making small talk with the others, I opened my book and started reading. I was about 12 at that time; I remember I was in secondary school already.

One of the guys were so impressed; a 12 year old reading about Greek myth!! And asked me if I read Odyssey and Illiad. Somehow, I suspected that those were the actual books that I’ve been looking for. I said no, but I would love to, and he lent me his copy!! Yeay!! Which probably explains why my copy doesn’t looked touched. 😛 Because I’ve read it but I wanted to own it. Though I’m thinking of giving it away and getting new ones that actually match. Nonetheless, most of my books don’t match anyway. Haha. Somehow I think that MPH no longer stock Penguin Popular Classics series anymore. Sigh. They’re cheap and they used recycled paper. How cool is that?

It must be amazing that a 12 year old voluntarily read such difficult book, in the eyes of those academics, that they didn’t bother what they story tells. I, of course, didn’t think much of it. Well, there were things I didn’t understand, I suppose, but I got the idea, somewhat. Though nowadays I snort when I think about how the Muses were conceived; Zeus spending 9 consecutive nights with Mnemosyne, thus getting us the 9 Muses. WTH? Hahaha.

I didn’t find it weird then.

I also didn’t find men liking men weird, or kidnapping people and raping them. I blame Zeus for these things. Really, how could the ancient Greeks consider him god?

And how I didn’t find it horrifying is another amazing thing.

When I discovered that astronomy would require a lot of maths, I decided on the next best thing; the literature from where they got the names of the constellations and planets and bladiblabla. I was set on going to college and doing a BA in arts or literature; maybe a double major. Arts because they do like painting what happens in myths, though there are probably more biblical images, since the Church are the richest bunch and people are always wanting to have the easy way to enter heaven.

Still, didn’t happen that way; I did law instead. And I have absolutely no career path. Sigh.

When I went back to the UK… Actually, when I went back to Dublin, I went to the Writers Museum, I didn’t know so many of the authors I like were Irish. I mean, the contemporary ones I knew… but the others… Though how I doubted James Joyce was Irish I’ve no idea; considering he wrote Dubliners. Though, to be honest, I’ve never read his books. Hahaha. Also, I’m not particularly interested in the author’s history, so I usually don’t read the biography of the author when I read books. What I do read is their acknowledgements. I absolutely love reading acknowledgements. Sometimes I judge a book according to the acknowledgements the author writes. Part of the reason I decided to read the Twilight saga was because Stephenie Meyer writes a rather long acknowledgement.

I know; I’m insane. What the hell, right? Especially considering I don’t like her actual work.

But I like reading authors saying thank you to people. That’s how I judge which textbook I should use; to see if the said author is humble enough to thank the people who helped them. I especially like those that actually thank their students.

Anyway, so, apparently Joyce is quite a celebrated Irish author. So, went I went to the bookshop, I asked the lady there which particular of his books would she recommend.

She recommended Ulysses.

I looked at her and said “but I’ve read the Greek version when I was 13!!”

Her reply was “then when you…” with a look that prompted me to say “twenty two” “…you read the Dublin version!!”

Right.

However, they were out of copies for Ulysses. And it was only after a few days ago I realize I should have been really grateful. Or maybe then I would have just look at it and just purchased it and thought “hmph; most of my textbooks are thicker.” Yeah, and I didn’t lug my textbooks all around Ireland and Scotland (because I’m pretty sure I would have dumped the book in Durham or York like I did in the end with my other books anyway 😛 ), so yeah. Imagine if I did start reading Ulysses somewhere during my trip… I would have to lug a thick book literally around both Ireland and Britain!! Still, I haven’t purchased the book. Hahaha.

The lady recommends that I read it with a map of Dublin. I am not sure where I put my map of Dublin, and somehow I find it might not be clear. Still, she recommends I draw the route out. And surprise surprise… I forgot this, and I threw away the spare map of Dublin I took just for this in Belfast. Sigh.

And to think of it, I don’t think I even had a map of ancient Greece when I was reading Odessey. I just… read it.

When I was in high school, one of the short stories we had to deal with was W Somerset Maugham’s the Lotus Eater. I never actually manage to remember the story well; I usually thought of what happened in Odessey instead. I thought the character did not want to go back instead of being content with life like the lotus eaters that were living on that island. Oh well…

Would I ever read the Dublin version of Ulysses? I’ve absolutely no idea.

Do the Romans have their own version? I’m not really sure. Hmmmm… Isn’t that the character’s name, anyway?

I mentioned the Memory Keeper’s Daughter when I started talking about Sara Fitzgerald.

A beautiful book. Made me cry and made me wonder how it was for my aunt. My cousin who was born the same year as me suffers from Down Syndrome. However, I’ve always found him similar to me… even though I know he’s… different. I don’t know. The only person in the family who doesn’t understand him is my mother, and that is because she’s hardly ever around. We still have our stupid fights, calling each other smelly even though we’re showering at the same time (the bathrooms share a common light even though there’s a wall that seperates us) or just came out fresh from the bathroom smelling ridiculously sweet from the soaps we use. I still fight to get a pillow with him; been doing that since forever. And he’ll be the older one and give up and get another pillow. Hahaha.

He never had much medical problems. He’ll be the healthy one while all of us fall sick. There was once all of us got a fever and he was the one that was helping us recover. It is only recently that he has medical problem; gout. Because he loves meat. He does eat his veges; he started eating veges before I did. My grandmother told me that I’m the only person in the world who doesn’t eat vegetables, and looking at my younger cousins, I believed her and started eating vege. Amazing, huh?

So reading the Memory Keeper’s Daughter was a very different point of view for me. I suppose the time frame might explain something, but since I never had many problems or witness any medical problems with my Down Syndrome cousin, I absolutely hated David Henry for giving up his daughter because she had one. Of course, he did see how his sister suffered and eventually died; he has witnessed it first hand and saw how his mother suffered and didn’t want his wife to go through it. The irony is that the wife suffered for the lost of her child anyway; he gave her away but told her she died.

I read only a few chapters before I left for England. I fell in love with the book even though I hated David Henry with a vengeance; it was as if he was real. However, during that period, I was reading books with characters named David being such jerks. It also didn’t help that I was angry with my uncle at that time; no surprise what his name is.

Yeah, I came to the UK thinking people named Davids are a bunch of idiots. Good thing I didn’t meet any.

And come to think of it, I never had any friends named David. Funny, considering it’s such a common name. But then, I never really bothered making friends with the locals; not much anyway.

I only started reading the book again a couple of weeks after I got back. Yeah, took me some time.

I started to understand his point of view better, and started to sympathize with him.

And started hating his wife. His adulterous wife.

It seems like I need to hate some character in the books I read. But I don’t. Heck, I don’t hate anyone in Middlesex, even though I get fed up with the crazy things they get into in the book. It’s just that, I don’t know… Now I get so… emotional with the characters. Like they’re real. I don’t know.

I blame Nicholas Sparks for it, obviously.

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