Two months ago, a group from church—all gals with whom I attended a church retreat called Christ Renews His Parish—decided to form a book club. Jodi Picoult’s MY SISTER’S KEEPER is this month’s read. It’s an intense story about a family spiraling out of control. One daughter is dying of acute promyelocytic leukemia, and her parents used genetic embryonic selection to produce a sibling who is a perfectly matched donor for the sick child. Now the donor daughter is old enough to consider her own health and her right to refuse being her sister’s lifeline.
Written in first person but with at least seven point-of-view characters, each “person” in the story has his or her own chapters as well as a personalized font. Yes, you read correctly—the font changes depending upon the POV character. And it works. Without a hitch, Picoult establishes each character as unique and compelling with distinct issues—think goals, motivation and conflict.
For a number of weeks my Wednesday blogs have focused on Donald Maass’ WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK. Many of the techniques he discusses can be illustrated in Picoult’s work, but one stands out above the rest. Maass challenges writers to incorporate universal truths into their stories. Picoult takes it to the extreme by giving the reader a teaching on life in each scene succinctly written, like an essay on the human condition only in fiction form. Ms. Picoult’s deep insights provide a satisfying punch over and over again.
A master storyteller, Picoult's well-drawn characters take on multiple roles in the story as she ups the conflict, pours on the emotion and stretches the tension and reader anticipation. Turnabouts and surprises, escalating personal stakes and larger-than-life characters—all hallmarks of a breakout novel—establish Picoult as a blockbuster author. Wonder if she took a Maass workshop or read his book?
Pick up a copy of MY SISTER’S KEEPER. You won’t be disappointed.
Happy writing and happy reading!
Wishing you abundant blessings,
PS: Post a comment and let me know your favorite authors!