Cedar Rapids, IA
Dear Ms. Picoult,
I'm not the type of person that cries. I don't tear up during mushy movies or reach for the tissues during a heartbreaking novel ending. That's just not me. Or, at least, it wasn't me.
I read your book My Sister's Keeper for the first time, three summers ago. It was the first time I had ever cried after reading a book. I later discovered that that moment would lead to a lot of heartaches with silver lings and lessons learned the hard way. It sometimes hurts to recognize and acknowledge what's happening in hard situations, but I've learned it only takes one person to trigger change, and you were that person for me.
Every summer, for more years than I can remember, it's been our extended family's tradition to go to a cabin in northern Wisconsin. Every year, it was the same cabin, the same lake. It was there that I first read your book. My grandmas, aunts, and cousins had all read it first, though, and would always discuss it at our nightly card games, careful not to spoil the ending. I waited patiently until they were all done and when I was finally given the worn copy to read, I couldn't wait to see what all of the fuss was about.
Once I started, I couldn't stop reading. I had to know; would it be death, or the death of a dream? I cried the night I finished it at the unexpected revelation that I had experienced that day. I thought of the book cover with the two sisters, so alike but so different. Then I thought of my sister sleeping in the bunk bed above me. What kind of sister was I? What would I give up to save my sister's life? I wondered how many times I had let her down.
I made a vow with myself that day to never let anything come between my sister and me, no matter what; I would be there for her always. It worked. My sister and I are best friends, and our relationship has improved so much since that day. We had always been close, and I had attributed that to the example set by my mom and my aunts, the best of friends who were lucky enough to be sisters.
Then, two years ago, my great-grandmother died. (The first of the girls to read the book and pass it on.) In the sadness, my mom and my aunts didn't really know how to cope. They got in little fights over stupid things that escalated into bigger fights, and eventually they stopped talking altogether. It's been about seventeen months since they last spoke. I was completely devastated when they stopped talking. My family, the rock that I had always counted on, was divided, broken. Whenever I re-read your book, I always think back to all of our happy times at the lake, and I wish that I could turn back time.
Life is too short to resent the people you love. I know the power of love and the effects it can have, especially on sisters, through you. You taught me that family is most important and the best way to prove that is to show it.
I don't agree with the choices my mom and aunts made, and my cousins and I have been working very hard to get them to speak again. I believe they will someday, not because I want them to, but because you showed me how powerful sisterly love can be. I want to thank you for writing such an amazing story of courage and love. Although fictional, it has certainly been a beacon of hope when I have needed one the most. If and when my family comes to their senses, you will be the reason why.