The basic plot of the book is revealed in the first chapter: Anna, aged 13, gets a lawyer to help her stop her parents make her donate one of her kidneys to save her sister Kate, 16, to the bewilderment and confusion of their parents. That much is a poignant and engaging story, and I ploughed on to find out how it would end.
Unfortunately there was too much cuteness in the story to keep my enthusiasm. Picoult really does lay it on thick, by the trowelful. I list the irritating factors here:
1) The girls' mother is herself a lawyer and represents herself in the court hearing. She is probably the best conveyed and most credible character in the book, but I found this vanishingly improbable behaviour. The poor woman is caring for a dying child and hasn't practiced law in over a decade (and no indication that she ever practiced family law). Yet she and her husband never seem to have discussed hiring a professional advocate.
2) Anna's lawyer and her court-appointed guardian ad litem are still getting over their teenage break-up fifteen years earlier. I accept that some people who have their hearts broken as teenagers take a while getting over it, but in my humbe opinion most have got over it by their mid-thirties. What's more, this is the first time they have spoken since then because in the busy world of family lawyers in Providence, RI, they somehow have never encountered each other before professionally. Rhode Island must be bigger than I had imagined.
3) Kate goes to a dance with a cute fellow patient who then romantically dies a couple of days later, the stress of the evening having proved too much for him.
4) Anna's lawyer has a grand mal seizure at a crucial point in the proceedings, even though his dog which has been trained to warn him when he is about to have a seizure has been vigorously warning him that he is about to have a seizure.
5) Despite the fact that Anna has been a first-person viewpoint character off and on throughout the book, it is only in the climactic scene that we discover that Kate asked her to go to the lawyer in the first place because she is fed up of being ill and wants to die. This revelation fatally eroded the credibility of Anna's characterisation for me.
6) It is therefore almost a relief when Anna is killed in a car accident shortly after winning her court case and her kidney is used to save Kate's life anyway.
So basically I started off wanting to like this book, but found it more and more difficult to do so; and the twists at the end killed any mild whim I might have had to recommend it to other people.