I normally read in little spurts, a few pages here and there before a lesson or while I'm cooking. I'm not proud of this fact - I love books, and I haven't read nearly enough of them lately. This book I read in two sittings, while the groceries waited to be put away and the phone kept ringing, the last 25 pages or so through a blur of tears.
This book is beautiful. It's the story of Anna, short for Andromeda, who was conceived to be a stem cell donor for her sister, who has a severe form of leukemia. Unfortunately, once doesn't turn out to be enough, and both sisters end up spending most of their time in the hospital, one donating blood and marrow, the other receiving it. When it happens that the next treatment option is a kidney donation, Anna's lot in life becomes a little more difficult to justify.
At the beginning, Anna starts telling her story, about her invisibility beneath her sister's all-consuming illness. Then, just as you start to empathize and welcome Anna's voice into your consciousness, the voice changes, and the telling is passed around among Anna's parents, her sister and brother, and eventually her lawyer, her guardian ad litem, and even a judge. Every time the voice changes, the new speaker's pain is biting and unique.
It's fairly rare that I find myself relating mainly to the male characters in a story, but the ones I love the most in this book are Anna's brother and father.
Jesse is Anna's older brother. He is the epitome of lostness. And a pyromaniac. A psychiatrist would call him an attention-seeker. But anyone who's ever rolled down the hill of obsession or addiction knows it's more than that. He's got legitimate pain, but it's never a priority in the family with so many other issues. His character brings to mind lyrics from an Art Garfunkel song:
All my love's softness, all my love's graces
She carries all things in her tiny white glove
She hides all her lostness in satins and laces
And everyone says she's searching for sweet love
Brian is Anna's father. His firefighting is what keeps him together, the activity that gives him some control. The father and the son both have escapist tendencies, which is perhaps what I relate to.
This book is worth reading. It flows beautifully between past and present and among characters. You finish reading, wishing to have another whole book about each and every character.