Family Loyalty and Medical Ethics

by jdowney

Arts & Entertainment

Family Loyalty and Medical Ethics

A Review of My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

Tully Mahoney ’23

My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult, is an all-consuming, heart-wrenching novel about Kate, a girl diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia at two years old, and her sister Anna, who was born to be Kate’s organ donor. The girls’ parents were told that having a family member serve as Kate’s bone marrow donor would give her the best chance at beating the leukemia, but neither they nor Kate’s brother are matches, so they are left hopeless until Anna is born as a perfect genetic match. 

By age 13, Anna has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots. Now, her parents are requesting that she give Kate her kidney. Anna questions who she is without Kate and if she means anything more to her family than being her sister’s lifeline; she figures she must draw the line at some point or she will continue to undergo such difficulties, so she meets with a lawyer to defend her body against her parents.

The novel is told from seven perspectives, giving a well-rounded view of the ethical debate that emerges at its center: Anna; Campbell, Anna’s lawyer; Sara, Anna’s mother; Brian, Anna’s father; Jesse, Anna’s brother; Julia, Anna’s guardian ad litem—which means someone appointed to act in a lawsuit on behalf of someone who cannot represent themselves, like a child; and Kate. These characters and their perspectives raise the questions of what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, and a good person as the debate of if it is morally correct to infringe on Anna’s rights to save Kate unfolds. Although this debate may appear to have a clear right answer—that Anna has the right over her own body—readers will find themselves empathizing with her parents’ point of view.

My Sister’s Keeper suffers from an unnecessary side plot following Campbell and Julia. Essentially, without giving away any spoilers, they were high school lovers whose extraordinarily different backgrounds led them to break up. When they are both assigned to Anna’s case, they feel an underlying awkwardness from what was left unsaid so many years ago.

As for its triumphs, the novel does a great job at artfully approaching a divisive real-life topic. Reading it in 2022, with genetic modification now possible, the story forces readers to consider how they would act in a situation that forced them to choose between family loyalty and medical ethics. Also, although the novel is told from several perspectives, which may appear overwhelming at first, it progresses elegantly and with a clear, full picture.

That being said, My Sister’s Keeper deserves 3.5/5 stars. Notably, there is a movie adaptation of this novel, but it makes significant changes to the book’s plot, which may leave readers rather disappointed. However, it is nevertheless a quality film that highlights the controversial ethical issues that drive the novel.

Dearest Readers, Bridgerton Has Returned

by jdowney

Arts & Entertainment

Dearest Readers, Bridgerton Has Returned

A Review of the Hit Period Drama’s Second Season

Caitlin Ariel ’24

After it was announced in April 2021 that the Duke of Hastings (played by Regé-Jean Page) would not be returning for the highly anticipated second season of Netflix’s hit period drama Bridgerton, fans were left puzzled for nearly a year as to how the show would continue without one of its debut season’s main characters. Bridgerton’s sophomore season, which aired on March 25, responded to this confusion by entangling fans in a new love story. With the absence of eldest daughter Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor), now a duchess, the pressure falls upon the family’s eldest son Anthony (Jonathan Bailey), also known as Viscount Bridgerton, to find a wife.

Bridgerton’s second season details many of the same high-society rituals as its debut run, but keeps things fresh with some new faces. For instance, before throwing himself into a flurry of balls and promenades, Anthony meets a mysterious woman (Simone Ashley) while going for a morning horseback ride. The banter they share excites him, but he puts it out of his mind as he prepares for his first ball of the season. 

At the ball, Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran) is declared “the diamond” of the season—as Daphne was in season one—and Anthony is determined to make her his wife. However, one roadblock stands in his way: he must win the approval of Edwina’s sister before a courtship can ensue. Unfortunately for Anthony, when he is introduced to Edwina’s sister, he realizes that she is the intriguing stranger from that morning, Kate Sharma, who overhears him remarking to his friends at the ball that he does not want to marry for love, but rather only to find someone to lead his family alongside him and have his children. Kate, who only wants Edwina to marry for love, becomes enraged, and she and Anthony quickly become mortal enemies.

Bridgerton’s second season also features the return of Lady Whistledown, the Gossip Girl-esque author of the series’ infamous gossip pamphlet. The Lady has new energy in the wake of the season one finale, in which viewers discover her identity. For one, she tries to evade the Queen (Golda Rosheuvel) and Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie) as they become more observant in their hunt to discover who is behind the gossip that has the town buzzing.

The season also includes subplots with the Featheringtons and the other Brigderton brothers, but Anthony’s love story dominates the season. Notably, though, the hypersexual chaos of season one that made viewers avoid watching the show with their families is much more restrained in season two, as viewers experience a satisfying slow burn between Kate and Anthony. The epitome of the popular enemies-to-lovers trope, Kate and Anthony’s constant tension as well as love-struck Edwina’s naiveness make the eight-episode show difficult not to binge, and fans agree: according to Variety, the period piece scored 193 million hours viewed during its premiere weekend and continues to sit comfortably at number one on Netflix’s list of the most popular English-language shows. 

Already renewed for a third and fourth season, the show is set to follow the eight-novel series on which it is based, ensuring many more balls, beautiful dresses, and classical versions of America’s favorite pop songs in fans’ futures.

Season two of Bridgerton is streaming now on Netflix.

Maid Shines a Light on Domestic Violence

by Sarah McLaughlin '23

Arts & Entertainment

Maid Shines a Light on Domestic Violence

The Netflix Drama’s Authenticity and Hopeful Message

Talia Rueda ’23

Maid was released on Netflix on Oct. 1 and has since claimed its place on Netflix’s “Top 10 in the US” list.

While the show offers a multitude of heartwarming moments between protagonist Alex and her 3-year-old daughter, Maddy, this mother-daughter relationship also proves to be life-saving. At one point, 23-year-old Alex is shown escaping her abusive boyfriend, Sean, in the middle of the night, hours after she finished picking glass out of her daughter’s hair from his usual drunken outrage.

Maddy being put in danger is the final straw for Alex. She leaves the comfort of her home and the little money she has in order to protect her daughter. However, while Alex knows she has to take action to protect Maddy, she is not initially aware of what Sean had been doing to her. It is not until she is homeless with nowhere to go and reaches out for housing assistance that she recognizes that she qualifies to live in a domestic violence shelter.

“I would hate to take a spot from someone that has been actually abused,” she says as she is offered the shelter’s phone number. It is clear that Alex is not aware of what emotional abuse is; she believes abuse can only be physical, and that the people she would not want to take a spot from people who have bruises all over their body.

This lack of education regarding emotional abuse comes up several times within the show. For instance, the court denies that there is evidence that Alex’s boyfriend abused her because she has an unmarked body. Also, Alex’s dad sees Sean verbally force her to sit down and eat dinner when she is not hungry, but when Alex asks her dad to testify for proof of abuse, he insists that this instance was just “a young couple going through a rough patch.” The show clearly works to inform its audience of what emotional abuse is, while simultaneously examining the ways in which the concept of abuse can be misconstrued.

Other scenes detail the less-obvious tactics emotional abusers use. Sean controls Alex in a subtle and isolating way. He wants Alex to be under his roof. He gives her car away and refuses to change his work schedule, making it impossible for her to get a job and gain monetary independence. Alex falls subject to Sean in all of these ways, working tirelessly for the comfortability and normality of being with the father of her daughter in their own home, making it an incredibly accurate portrayal of emotional abuse.

In one of the first episodes of the series, the owner of the domestic violence shelter informs Alex that women may return to their abuser up to seven times. Maid does an astounding job of showcasing this somber fact when Alex returns home to Sean out of desperation, but also with the hope that he will change. Alex’s desire for him to change is ultimately less powerful than her goal of making a better life for her daughter, one without glass thrown across the kitchen or drunk outbursts. 

Alex’s story ends more happily than many domestic abuse cases do, but there is nonetheless a commonality between her story and those of real women regarding the relationship between mothers and their children. These women do not often escape abuse for themselves, but for their sons and daughters. In the hardest moments of both Alex and Maddy’s lives, their mother-daughter relationship proves to save both of their spirits, and seemingly, their lives.