Jodi Picoult tests the strains of family bonds in My Sister’s Keeper. The book questions what makes a family family. It also determines that there is a fine line between the individual and the collective in a family and examines psychological issues related to family.
Mostly, My Sister’s Keeper grabs the reader and wraps them up in a story of life, love and death with surprising twists and turns that are characteristic of life.
Picoult takes readers on a journey back and forth through time to explore the questionable decisions of a family with one dying child.
Kate Fitzgerald is diagnosed with leukemia as a toddler and the entire life course of this family is directed toward trying to save her life. Her mother and father desperately seek a solution to her disease after being told she doesn’t have long to live.
The girl’s mother, Sara Fitzgerald knows that a donor is a rare possibility. She and her husband, Brian, decide to genetically engineer a child to donate to their dying daughter. What is initially a donation from Anna to Kate at birth becomes a yearly extension of blood, marrow, and anything else to keep Kate alive. Finally, Kate is experiencing kidney failure and Anna is told she will give Kate a kidney.
Anna, 13, revolts. Dreaming of herself in pieces, she saves enough money to retain a lawyer and begins a court battle with her family for medical emancipation. No one has asked her whether she wanted to be a guinea pig all these years for Kate; she just assumed it as her duty. Anna does not want to provide a kidney, knowing that if Kate lives she will continue to require more of something to survive.
The girl takes on the courts and her family in this novel to claim an identify separate from her ailing sister. She is supported in her efforts by the eldest brother, Jesse, who lives in the garage and sets fires throughout their Rhode Island town to catch the attention of his fireman father Brian. The town’s top lawyer, Campbell Alexander, takes her case and finds himself in her poignant struggle for identification of self.
Anna is assisted throughout her case by guardian, appointed to assist her with making decisions. Anna’s guardian and lawyer have a past riddled with pain and fueled by an unexplained 15-year separation.
Julia Romano still has to work with Alexander despite his departure from her life after high school graduation many years ago. Together they find a way to help Anna with her elevation from guinea pig status right before tragedy strikes the weakened family.
Picoult crafts a sad tale that will leave readers laughing and crying at home and when they follow up at the movie which debuted on June 26 at local theaters.
My Sister’s Keeper joins other novels Picoult has adapted for the screen. Other books, including The Pact and The Tenth Circle, have been made into Lifetime Movies. After reading just one you become a fan. Visit www.jodipicoult.com to find out about what she is working on next.