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Book Review: My Sister’s Keeper

Posted in books on October 26, 2010 by hangingbridge

My Sister's Keeper


My Sister’s Keeper:  An Heir and A Spare

A sales representative of Cord Life Philippines has approached me.  She discussed what their company was all about.  Their company serves as storage of umbilical cord blood for as long as twenty years.  The cord blood will serve as a stem cell source in case a kid grows up sick and needed a compatible body part.

That happened a week before I decided to read this book which has been in my bookshelf for almost a year now.

Anna was conceived for the sole purpose of having a compatible source of blood for her sick older sister, Kate, who has leukemia.  She was genetically engineered to have all the recessive traits in order not to have the same disease as her sister.  The first time she donated blood for her sister was immediately after she was born.  And it has been like that until she was thirteen years old when she sued her parents for medical emancipation.

Anna has identified herself with a vessel.  She is nothing but a bin of body parts for her sister.  She lives for another person literally.  She was not given a choice to be otherwise. 

Anna has been subjected to medical diagnostic tests and procedures as her sister who had the worst kind of leukemia.  She never said no before until the time when her mother presumed that she is going to donate her kidney for her sister when her sister had total renal failure and may be the cause of her death. 

The book dealt with how all the members of the family are handling a family member’s sickness.  It has come to my attention that everyone in the family forms his or her own reaction to this kind of burden.  It takes its toll on everyone.  Feelings of self-pity, of guilt, of being rejected, of being taken for granted, of wanting to escape and so much more may be all present but not uttered like what is happening to the family in the story.

How far will the science of medicine go in order to prolong life?  For the most part of the book, it seems that science has done everything except address the impact of the illness to the person and the family.  And most of the scenes in the story gave a negative portrayal of how medicine handles the illness but not the people involved – especially the donor’s part in the healing process. 

At the near end of the story, a reader might think that the heroine may have had her way afterall.  Anna knew that it was not an easy decision for her to make.  She knew that by not giving her kidney, she might have saved her life but might have killed her sister in the process. 

The medical extra-ordinary means worked out after all in the end.  Organ donation for someone like Kate who is almost at the end of her road and almost ready to kick the bucket may not be as fruitful as that for others.  But because her sister’s unforeseen tragic death, she lived for the next couple of years.  If Kate was to fall in line like all others for an organ donation, she would have been voted out of the list.  But because of her sister Anna, she didn’t have to fall in line because a vessel has been conceived solely for the purpose of being a source of organs. 

Medicine has saved a lot of lives throughout the years.  There is no doubt that scientists, doctors and researchers have done so much for humanity.  I do have doubts with genetic engineering.  There is something wrong with manipulating the codes of a human being.  There is something wrong with the fact that man gets to decide who gets to live.  We opt for a perfect healthy child.  We opt for perfection for ourselves.  But in the story, one’s perfection is for the benefit of another is very controversial.  A person who has been gifted with a soul and conscience is subjected to the inhumane practice of medicine. 

The book may be fiction but it presented so many realistic possibilities.

Cord Life has offered me the initial and safest option just in case my baby needed it in the future.  I don’t know if it’s a sign that I had to encounter a sales rep for stem cell medical option in my OB’s office and having to read this book.  I have to knock on wood on this one because I couldn’t afford the price for having my baby’s cord blood to be stored in their facility. 


Bob Ong’s Mac Arthur

Posted in books on October 21, 2010 by hangingbridge

Bob Ong's Mac Arthur


I go for books and movies that will leave me feeling good about life.  I have bought a couple of Bob Ong books months ago and has just started reading some of them thinking of all the rave reviews about Bob Ong’s literary works. 

There is nothing amusing about being poor and uneducated.  There is nothing exciting about running away from authorities just so you can save your stolen goods.  Bob Ong does not romanticize poverty in this book.  Instead, he lays everything on the table for you to see how dark and frightful it is to be young and poor. 

Four boys who can’t look far ahead in the future.  They find comfort in the company of each other made especially interesting when there’s pot around. 

One of them was forced to grow older than he is, facing responsibility that I would not have imagined for someone who is not yet done with puberty. 

The first few pages of the book showed him running as fast as he could away from the scene of the crime.  He got away from angry cries of the crowd that travelled like fire summing up the crime he had done.  In spite of that, he was able to lose them all except from the police officer who recognized his face anywhere.  He handed the glittering chain to the officer who sniffed that something was up when he caught the boy panting in one corner.  The officer then brought him to jail commanded him to poop out whatever it is that he swallowed before.  After a few hours, the boy painfully passed a couple of undigested jewelry along with his feces.

The story ends with tragedy that befell over two of the main characters.  One ended up dead and the other ended up killing a family member.  It also ends with a wake-up call to one of the four boys who has lost his way and found the right path again.

Scenes like this are read in this book.  A dark portrayal of the lives of the young in the slums.

We wouldn’t really know how hard life is until we are in the shoes of those who has no one to depend to but themselves at a time when they have nothing left and are too young to lose the little hope they had left.  Bob Ong has laid out in this little book the unimaginable hardships of a young man who has not yet learned so much and has been forced out in the world to deal with problems that could make a grown man cry. 

“I shall return” are words uttered by Mac Arthur.  In the end of the story, the boy who seem to have had every opportunity in life who he deliberately threw away, came home and was invited to seat at the dinner table.  The boy then knew that he was given another chance.  He has finally seen the good fortune that he has when his friends have lives that ended without giving them any chance to live at all.

After putting down the book, I can’t help but be more thankful of what my life has offered me.  Now I understand that the problems I have to face are nothing compared to what the young characters in the book have to endure.  Although fictional, the author must not have derived the story entirely based on his imagination.  The scary part of it is that there’s truth in what I have just read.

The 5th Horseman: A Book Review

Posted in books on July 26, 2009 by hangingbridge

Another “Whodunnit?” work.

“…the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – Famine, Death, Pestilence, and War – you know.  But he said the 5th Horseman was Man, and that Man was the most dangerous of all…”

The author has misled both the readers and the heroines who the culprit was by introducing the real murderer in just one chapter of the book. I couldn’t help thinking that the evidence against the real murderer was disregarded and the efforts of the heroine was still directed to someone without evidence of murder at all – well until the end of the book.

Biased readers and heroines themselves, have formed in their mind from the very start who the angel of death was in that fictional hospital. The usual suspect was an easy target.

While reading the book, one question has formed in my mind: Are there really hospitals who do not allow guardians (or the “at most 1 visitor”) to stay and accompany the patient? Even the minors are left to themselves. It’s scary for adults to be sick and confined in a strange place alone, what more if you were a kid?

And also, I didn’t know nurse assistants could administer medications. Here in my country only the certified RNs could do that along with the doctors themselves who prescribed the meds. If you ask me, there are a lot of jobs designated to those who shouldn’t be handling things as critical as medications.

All in all, I enjoyed being wrong about my assumptions at the end of the book. Well, not entirely. The “usual” suspect has done something really stupid to get him into real big trouble.

Read the book… maybe you can form a better review ;D For me, it’s just either good or bad. And this one was good.