My Sister’s Keeper is melodrama done well, with a side of interesting ethical quandaries. The premise itself is the book’s biggest strength–should a young woman who was born for the purpose of being a blood and organ donor to her leukemia-stricken sister be allowed medical emancipation from her parents, even if it’s at the cost of her sister’s life? It’s fascinating and emotionally taxing territory to ponder. This is the chess board upon which Jodi Picoult plays her pieces: characters who have exaggerated, caricature-like personalities but also moving, true inner dialogues that almost make up for it. Some of the plot conveniences are certainly too convenient to be believed, but they create a resulting environment of heightened emotion that sets Picoult up to spike her best moments right into reader’s hearts. While elements of the story itself were overwrought, certain truths about parenthood, sisterhood, and human rights get explored along the way, and make this novel worth the quick read.
Kate Moore’s monumental dedication in researching the lives of the radium dial painters makes this incredible book what it is. She writes their stories with sensitivity and fidelity, imbued always with the deep admiration that compelled her to take on the project of writing Radium Girls. Detailing the obscene negligence of the radium companies of the 1920s and the carnage that followed in its wake, this book is a battle cry from the past that’s long overdue. I was transfixed and educated in the process of reading–Moore leaves no small detail unturned. The dial painting women are resurrected in these pages, and the reader learns about their everyday moments and concerns as much as about the unbelievable physical torments that they underwent. “Lip, dip, paint” becomes a chilling refrain as Moore shines a harsh light on a moment in history that birthed many of the workers’ protections that our country now provides. This is a stunning piece of non-fiction that pays a loving tribute to its subjects, making them completely impossible to forget.