This is a review solely of the book, since I haven't seen the movie and don't ever intend to.
I had to originally read this novel a few years ago for class, and I distinctly recall loathing it but at the time I couldn't remember why. So recently I decided to reread it entirely, because I thought I had unfairly judged it and disliked it because I was forced to study it. Nope. One of the most repulsive pieces of literature I've ever had to sit through.
The main reason for this is the mother character. Good GOD, I never thought one character could sour an experience so much, but this bitch takes the cake. And believe me I actually did like a few characters in this, like Anna, Jesse, and Campbell, they managed to be funny, sympathetic, generally enjoyable to read. But Sarah...I have never had a character act so vile, so callous and cruel and never get called on it. Give birth to a child just so she can be a walking organ bank for your sick daughter? A-okay to her. Downright neglect you firstborn and leave him to spiral into a criminal lifestyle without bothering to so much as talk to him? Fine in her book. Your daughter files a lawsuit against you for being the most vile mother this side of Cinderella's wicked stepmother? Well clearly its all the daughters fault.
I mean my god, this character just made me sick to my stomach, and I wanted so dearly for someone to sock her in the jaw or say that she's a complete bitch. Nope. And even in the end, when she should have lost, the 'shocking twist' of the story renders every single prior page of the book entirely pointless. Anna is killed off in a callous and downright mean spirited way just so the author can dodge answering the moral questions raised in the book. It just ruined everything, made the entire book completely pointless, and Sarah was able to get off scott-free for years and years of emotional, mental and physical abuse.
I just felt ill after. Good thing the pages are so good at soaking up vomit and bile.