I was on the Jodi Picoult train before there really was one. Before Cameron Diaz stared in the movie adaption of My Sister’s Keeper. Before Ellen DeGeneres bought the rights to Sing You Home. Definitely before The Storyteller gained so much publicity for Jodi. Ironic enough, the first book I read of Jodi’s was My Sister’s Keeper. Note that, however, the book came out in 2004 and the movie in 2009. The only reason I picked up the book in the first place was because I stumbled across it in the clearance section of Barnes and Noble. But the story of Anna and Kate and Anna’s fight for medical emancipation kept me wanting more; and buying more.
One of the reasons I am so protective of Jodi Picoult and her works when my friends or acquaintances judge her is the fact that after JK Rowling, I struggled to find an author that really persuaded me to pick up a book and read. I was that child—not that 14 would really be considered a child nowadays—that had to be given mandatory reading time every night because I would rather do the alternative; sit in front of a small television screen and absorb copious amounts of information that would most likely do me no good in the future. I didn’t have an interest in reading. I account this to the association I had of books with school assignments; books I did not want to read in the first place. Why read for pleasure when I was being bombarded with reading questions and essays for school assignments? Thanks, but no thanks. I have enough trouble trying to find the symbolism. With Jodi’s books, however, I was intrigued.
Intrigued by everything. By her stories. By her courage to write about what she does. By her humbleness no matter how much publicity and fans she has gained over the years. I remember a few years back, at one of her book signings, Jodi mentioned to her audience that she would never be one of those record breaking authors because of the topics she writes about. In my personal opinion however, that’s why she such the large fan base that she does. She doesn’t shy away from writing about things that are considered taboo to bring up at the dinner table. The death penalty, gay marriage, and pulling the plug on life support. I applaud her for that. And with that, she also touches on the emotionally draining subjects of a high school shooting, raising a child with special needs, a survivor of the Holocaust, being in a mentally abusive relationship, and the likes; very touchy subjects to write about and get right. But if we’re being honest again like I have been this entire piece, that was why I bought book after book of hers.
Her books capture both sides of the story. She writes from the different perspectives of different characters, on both sides of the argument. She can take on the personas of a male within a coma to a fictional character of her fictional character and make them seem so realistic. That everything could actually happen. That it is truly acceptable to believe a storybook could come to life and the fairy tale character is rationally able to communicate with a person in society. To that, I owe her daughter credit as well. They co-wrote it.
I don’t claim to be a great writer. This opinion piece probably has so many grammatical and flow errors that it shows just that. But the one thing that I do have is the inspiration to write. What’s on my mind. The random stories that I create in the chaos of my brain. Realistically, the things that I write and publish will never see the light of day past the few subscribers on my website, but I write for no one but myself. I owe Jodi Picoult for that. Her determination and dedication to writing about things that I wish I had the guts to inspires me to get my voice out there, whether it actually reaches someone or not. Thank you Jodi for being my role model, even though you may not know that you are.
I leave with this quote from her latest published book, The Storyteller: “Fiction comes in all shapes and sizes. Secrets, lies, stories. We all tell them. Sometimes, because we hope to entertain. Sometimes, because we need to distract. And sometimes, because we have to.”