Saturday, July 26, 2014
who decides? who cares?
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
Review: I have long admired Picoult's ability to deal with a controversial issue in a way that leaves me with sympathy for both sides, even if I don't agree with one. She's done this successfully with issues as diverse as gay adoption, suicide pacts, accusations of child abuse, school shootings, and various aspects of medical ethics, including, in this case, euthanasia.
Unfortunately, in this book, neither of the main characters are particularly likable or sympathetic. As the result of a car accident, Luke Warren is in a coma with a traumatic brain injury from which the doctors say there is no hope of recovery. The question is raised about whether to continue life support. Who will make the decision? He's divorced, and his only remaining blood relatives are his children: Edward, who left the family 6 years ago at age 18 and hasn't had contact with his father since; and Cara, who is very close to her father, but is only 17. Edward immediately returns home and, taking in the situation, and based on a conversation he had with his father when he was 15, begins the process of having the life support withdrawn and authorizing his father's organs to be donated. Cara believes that her father would seize any chance at life. The hospital insists that Cara and Edward agree on the plan, and the plot thickens.
As a plot, this is all very well. Unfortunately, Edward is a self-righteous hothead and Cara, despite arguing that, at 17-3/4, is perfectly mature enough to make the decision, persists in acting in the most immature ways possible. Naturally, court proceedings are instituted, and so we have a story. Unfortunately, I spent so much of the book just wishing that both Cara and Edward would go away that I didn't find myself caring much what happened to poor Luke one way or the other.