My Sister's Keeper

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New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult is widely acclaimed for her keen insights into the hearts and minds of real people. Now she tells the emotionally riveting story of a family torn apart by conflicting needs and a passionate love that triumphs over human weakness.

Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued ...

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Overview

New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult is widely acclaimed for her keen insights into the hearts and minds of real people. Now she tells the emotionally riveting story of a family torn apart by conflicting needs and a passionate love that triumphs over human weakness.

Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate—a life and a role that she has never challenged...until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister—and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves.

My Sister’s Keeper examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child’s life, even if that means infringing upon the rights of another? Is it worth trying to discover who you really are, if that quest makes you like yourself less? Should you follow your own heart, or let others lead you? Once again, in My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult tackles a controversial real-life subject with grace, wisdom, and sensitivity.

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  • My Sister's Keeper
    My Sister's Keeper  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Known for writing novels with provocative themes centered on family conflict and difficult moral choices, Jodi Picoult presents the story of a child whose sole reason for existence is to assure a genetic match for her terminally ill sibling.

Conceived in vitro, 13-year-old Anna Fitzgerald has decided to sue her parents to stop them from using her as "spare parts" for her older sister, Kate, who suffers from leukemia. After years of having her bone marrow and blood used to keep Kate alive, Anna now refuses to donate a kidney and strives for her own personal freedom. She hires lawyer Campbell Alexander to represent her, even as her own mother, a former civil defense attorney, fights her in court.

The complex and emotionally wrenching narrative unfolds from the alternating perspectives of a large cast of intriguing and likable characters. Picoult, who has handled such delicate topics as teen suicide and euthanasia in previous novels, proves equally adept with this sensitive and emotionally charged subject matter. The tragic circumstances of Anna's plight are made all the more poignant because it's clear from the onset how much she loves her family. In My Sister's Keeper, the author has crafted a compelling story that is heartbreaking and literate in equal measure.

The Washington Post
Picoult is at her best, and most moving, when writing from the perspective of Anna's mother, Sara. Exhausted by Kate's recurrent illness, Sara is often on edge and overwhelmed. But she is also focused: Her tenacity, her vigilance and her support during Kate's aggressive cancer treatments all give Kate a reason to live. Mothering takes on new meaning, and the mundane becomes surreal: Kate's goldfish, according to the oceanologist Sara consults in a desperate effort to save the pet's life, requires bottled water, and the mere thought of buying Jesse a new pair of soccer cleats after Kate relapses seems "downright obscene." — Katherine Arie
Publishers Weekly
The difficult choices a family must make when a child is diagnosed with a serious disease are explored with pathos and understanding in this 11th novel by Picoult (Second Glance, etc.). The author, who has taken on such controversial subjects as euthanasia (Mercy), teen suicide (The Pact) and sterilization laws (Second Glance), turns her gaze on genetic planning, the prospect of creating babies for health purposes and the ethical and moral fallout that results. Kate Fitzgerald has a rare form of leukemia. Her sister, Anna, was conceived to provide a donor match for procedures that become increasingly invasive. At 13, Anna hires a lawyer so that she can sue her parents for the right to make her own decisions about how her body is used when a kidney transplant is planned. Meanwhile, Jesse, the neglected oldest child of the family, is out setting fires, which his firefighter father, Brian, inevitably puts out. Picoult uses multiple viewpoints to reveal each character's intentions and observations, but she doesn't manage her transitions as gracefully as usual; a series of flashbacks are abrupt. Nor is Sara, the children's mother, as well developed and three-dimensional as previous Picoult protagonists. Her devotion to Kate is understandable, but her complete lack of sympathy for Anna's predicament until the trial does not ring true, nor can we buy that Sara would dust off her law degree and represent herself in such a complicated case. Nevertheless, Picoult ably explores a complex subject with bravado and clarity, and comes up with a heart-wrenching, unexpected plot twist at the book's conclusion. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Booklist

(Starred Review)My Sister's Keeper is a beautiful, heartbreaking, controversial, and honest book.

People

(Critic's Choice)[Second Glance] is a fast-paced, densely layered exploration of love, the pull of family and the power of both to transcend time.

Publishers Weekly

(Starred Review)A spellbinding suspense novel.

USA Today

Picoult's characters are so compelling that the reader hopes this won't be the last time we meet.

Washington Post

Picoult has become a master -- almost a clairvoyant -- at targeting hot issues and writing highly readable page-turners about them....

The Boston Globe

Picoult writes with a fine touch, a sharp eye for detail, and a firm grasp of the delicacy and complexity of human relationships.

Library Journal
Imagine that you were conceived to be the donor of bone marrow and platelets for your older sister, who has a rare form of cancer. Imagine what it would be like to grow up in a family where everyone is constantly aware of one child's deadly illness, so that all decisions must be filtered through what will work for her treatment or her most recent medical emergency. How can a 12-year-old decide against donating a kidney to her older sister? By having this story narrated by each character in turn, Picoult (Second Glance) shows readers the dilemmas facing everyone involved: from Anna, the child who sues her parents for medical emancipation; to Sara, the mother who loves all three of her children but must devote continual attention to the daughter with cancer; and to Jesse, the son who has abandoned hope of ever being noticed by his parents. Picoult's timely and compelling novel will appeal to anyone who has thought about the morality of medical decision making and any parent who must balance the needs of different children. Highly recommended.-Kim Uden Rutter, Lake Villa Dist. Lib., IL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Picoult's latest chronicle of family travail (Second Glance, 2003, etc.) highlights the consequences of deliberately conceiving a child genetically compatible with a mortally ill sibling. The author vividly evokes the physical and psychic toll a desperately sick child imposes on a family, even a close and loving one like the Fitzgeralds. Picoult's plotting, though, is less sure, as an inherently somber tale morphs into a melodrama with a too-neat twist. Anna Fitzgerald, the 13-year-old who begins the story, was conceived in vitro, and her embryo's genetic makeup closely matched that of her sister Kate. Now 16, Kate was diagnosed at 2 with acute promyelocytic leukemia. In the years that followed she has suffered numerous relapses, despite the infusion of Anna's platelets and bone marrow, even stem cells from her sister's umbilical cord. Their parents, Sara and Brian, now want Anna to give Kate one of her kidneys; compromised by her drastic treatments, Kate's organs are shutting down. Instead, Anna contacts attorney Campbell Alexander and asks him to represent her; she wants her parents to stop using her body to help Kate. Like elder brother Jesse, who's turned his angst into arson and general bad-boy behavior, she has spent her life in the shadow of her sister's illness-one year Kate had to be hospitalized on every holiday. Sara, who has made keeping Kate alive her life's mission, is very angry, but Brian initially takes Anna's side, feeling too much has been asked of her. A hearing is scheduled, though Anna is torn between her affection for Kate and what she feels must be done. As the hearing begins Kate is hospitalized, Jesse's arson is discovered, and Anna initially refuses to testify.There can be no easy outcomes in a tale about individual autonomy clashing with a sibling's right to life, but Picoult thwarts our expectations in unexpected ways. Despite overplotting, then, a telling portrait of a profoundly stressed family. Agent: Laura Gross
From the Publisher
Booklist (Starred Review) My Sister's Keeper is a beautiful, heartbreaking, controversial, and honest book.

People (Critic's Choice) [Second Glance] is a fast-paced, densely layered exploration of love, the pull of family and the power of both to transcend time.

Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) A spellbinding suspense novel.

USA Today Picoult's characters are so compelling that the reader hopes this won't be the last time we meet.

Washington Post Picoult has become a master — almost a clairvoyant — at targeting hot issues and writing highly readable page-turners about them....

The Boston Globe Picoult writes with a fine touch, a sharp eye for detail, and a firm grasp of the delicacy and complexity of human relationships.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743454520
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publication date: 4/6/2004
  • Pages: 432
  • Lexile: 840L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult received an AB in creative writing from Princeton and a master’s degree in education from Harvard. The recipient of the 2003 New England Book Award for her entire body of work, she is the author of twenty-one novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers House Rules, Handle With Care, Change of Heart, and My Sister’s Keeper, for which she received the American Library Association’s Margaret Alexander Edwards Award. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children. Visit her website at JodiPicoult.com.

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    1. Hometown:
      Hanover, New Hampshire
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 19, 1966
    2. Place of Birth:
      Nesconset, Long Island, NY
    1. Education:
      A.B. in Creative Writing, Princeton University; M.A. in Education, Harvard University
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

My Sister's Keeper

A Novel
By Jodi Picoult

Atria

Copyright © 2004 Jodi Picoult All right reserved.
ISBN: 0-7434-5452-9


Chapter One

Anna

When I was little, the great mystery to me wasn't how babies were made, but why. The mechanics I understood - my older brother Jesse had filled me in - although at the time I was sure he'd heard half of it wrong. Other kids my age were busy looking up the words penis and vagina in the classroom dictionary when the teacher had her back turned, but I paid attention to different details. Like why some mothers only had one child, while other families seemed to multiply before your eyes. Or how the new girl in school, Sedona, told anyone who'd listen that she was named for the place where her parents were vacationing when they made her ("Good thing they weren't staying in Jersey City," my father used to say).

Now that I am thirteen, these distinctions are only more complicated: the eighth-grader who dropped out of school because she got into trouble; a neighbor who got herself pregnant in the hopes it would keep her husband from filing for divorce. I'm telling you, if aliens landed on earth today and took a good hard look at why babies get born, they'd conclude that most people have children by accident, or because they drink too much on a certain night, or because birth control isn't one hundred percent, or for a thousand other reasons that really aren't very flattering.

On the other hand, I was born for a very specific purpose. I wasn't the result of a cheap bottle of wine or a full moon or the heat of the moment. I was born because a scientist managed to hook up my mother's eggs and my father's sperm to create a specific combination of precious genetic material. In fact, when Jesse told me how babies get made and I, the great disbeliever, decided to ask my parents the truth, I got more than I bargained for. They sat me down and told me all the usual stuff, of course - but they also explained that they chose little embryonic me, specifically, because I could save my sister, Kate. "We loved you even more," my mother made sure to say, "because we knew what exactly we were getting."

It made me wonder, though, what would have happened if Kate had been healthy. Chances are, I'd still be floating up in Heaven or wherever, waiting to be attached to a body to spend some time on Earth. Certainly I would not be part of this family. See, unlike the rest of the free world, I didn't get here by accident. And if your parents have you for a reason, then that reason better exist. Because once it's gone, so are you.

Pawnshops may be full of junk, but they're also a breeding ground for stories, if you ask me, not that you did. What happened to make a person trade in the Never Before Worn Diamond Solitaire? Who needed money so badly they'd sell a teddy bear missing an eye? As I walk up to the counter, I wonder if someone will look at the locket I'm about to give up, and ask these same questions.

The man at the cash register has a nose the shape of a turnip, and eyes sunk so deep I can't imagine how he sees well enough to go about his business. "Need something?" he asks.

It's all I can do to not turn around and walk out the door, pretend I've come in by mistake. The only thing that keeps me steady is knowing I am not the first person to stand in front of this counter holding the one item in the world I never thought I'd part with.

"I have something to sell," I tell him.

"Am I supposed to guess what it is?"

"Oh." Swallowing, I pull the locket out of the pocket of my jeans. The heart falls on the glass counter in a pool of its own chain. "It's fourteen-karat gold," I pitch. "Hardly ever worn." This is a lie; until this morning, I haven't taken it off in seven years. My father gave it to me when I was six after the bone marrow harvest, because he said anyone who was giving her sister such a major present deserved one of her own. Seeing it there, on the counter, my neck feels shivery and naked.

The owner puts a loop up to his eye, which makes it seem almost normal size. "I'll give you twenty."

"Dollars?"

"No, pesos. What did you think?"

"It's worth five times that!" I'm guessing.

The owner shrugs. "I'm not the one who needs the money."

I pick up the locket, resigned to sealing the deal, and the strangest thing happens - my hand, it just clamps shut like the Jaws of Life. My face goes red with the effort to peel apart my fingers. It takes what seems like an hour for that locket to spill into the owner's outstretched palm. His eyes stay on my face, softer now. "Tell them you lost it," he offers, advice tossed in for free.

If Mr. Webster had decided to put the word freak in his dictionary, Anna Fitzgerald would be the best definition he could give. It's more than just the way I look: refugee-skinny with absolutely no chest to speak of, hair the color of dirt, connect-the-dot freckles on my cheeks that, let me tell you, do not fade with lemon juice or sunscreen or even, sadly, sandpaper. No, God was obviously in some kind of mood on my birthday, because he added to this fabulous physical combination the bigger picture - the household into which I was born.

My parents tried to make things normal, but that's a relative term. The truth is, I was never really a kid. To be honest, neither were Kate and Jesse. I guess maybe my brother had his moment in the sun for the four years he was alive before Kate got diagnosed, but ever since then, we've been too busy looking over our shoulders to run headlong into growing up. You know how most little kids think they're like cartoon characters - if an anvil drops on their heads they can peel themselves off the sidewalk and keep going? Well, I never once believed that. How could I, when we practically set a place for Death at the dinner table?

Kate has acute promyelocytic leukemia. Actually, that's not quite true - right now she doesn't have it, but it's hibernating under her skin like a bear, until it decides to roar again. She was diagnosed when she was two; she's sixteen now. Molecular relapse and granulocyte and portacath - these words are part of my vocabulary, even though I'll never find them on any SAT. I'm an allogeneic donor - a perfect sibling match. When Kate needs leukocytes or stem cells or bone marrow to fool her body into thinking it's healthy, I'm the one who provides them. Nearly every time Kate's hospitalized, I wind up there, too.

None of which means anything, except that you shouldn't believe what you hear about me, least of all that which I tell you myself.

As I am coming up the stairs, my mother comes out of her room wearing another ball gown. "Ah," she says, turning her back to me. "Just the girl I wanted to see."

I zip it up and watch her twirl. My mother could be beautiful, if she were parachuted into someone else's life. She has long dark hair and the fine collarbones of a princess, but the corners of her mouth turn down, like she's swallowed bitter news. She doesn't have much free time, since a calendar is something that can change drastically if my sister develops a bruise or a nosebleed, but what she does have she spends at Bluefly.com, ordering ridiculously fancy evening dresses for places she is never going to go. "What do you think?" she asks.

The gown is all the colors of a sunset, and made out of material that swishes when she moves. It's strapless, what a star might wear sashaying down a red carpet - totally not the dress code for a suburban house in Upper Darby, RI. My mother twists her hair into a knot and holds it in place. On her bed are three other dresses - one slinky and black, one bugle-beaded, one that seems impossibly small. "You look ..."

Tired. The word bubbles right under my lips.

My mother goes perfectly still, and I wonder if I've said it without meaning to. She holds up a hand, shushing me, her ear cocked to the open doorway. "Did you hear that?"

"Hear what?"

"Kate."

"I didn't hear anything."

But she doesn't take my word for it, because when it comes to Kate she doesn't take anybody's word for it. She marches upstairs and opens up our bedroom door to find my sister hysterical on her bed, and just like that the world collapses again. My father, a closet astronomer, has tried to explain black holes to me, how they are so heavy they absorb everything, even light, right into their center. Moments like this are the same kind of vacuum; no matter what you cling to, you wind up being sucked in.

"Kate!" My mother sinks down to the floor, that stupid skirt a cloud around her. "Kate, honey, what hurts?"

Kate hugs a pillow to her stomach, and tears keep streaming down her face. Her pale hair is stuck to her face in damp streaks; her breathing's too tight. I stand frozen in the doorway of my own room, waiting for instructions: Call Daddy. Call 911. Call Dr. Chance. My mother goes so far as to shake a better explanation out of Kate. "It's Preston," she sobs. "He's leaving Serena for good."

That's when we notice the TV. On the screen, a blond hottie gives a longing look to a woman crying almost as hard as my sister, and then he slams the door. "But what hurts?" my mother asks, certain there has to be more to it than this.

"Oh my God," Kate says, sniffling. "Do you have any idea how much Serena and Preston have been through? Do you?"

That fist inside me relaxes, now that I know it's all right. Normal, in our house, is like a blanket too short for a bed - sometimes it covers you just fine, and other times it leaves you cold and shaking; and worst of all, you never know which of the two it's going to be. I sit down on the end of Kate's bed. Although I'm only thirteen, I'm taller than her and every now and then people mistakenly assume I'm the older sister. At different times this summer she has been crazy for Callahan, Wyatt, and Liam, the male leads on this soap. Now, I guess, it's all about Preston. "There was the kidnapping scare," I volunteer. I actually followed that story line; Kate made me tape the show during her dialysis sessions.

"And the time she almost married his twin by mistake," Kate adds.

"Don't forget when he died in the boat accident. For two months, anyway." My mother joins the conversation, and I remember that she used to watch this soap, too, sitting with Kate in the hospital.

For the first time, Kate seems to notice my mother's outfit. "What are you wearing?"

"Oh. Something I'm sending back." She stands up in front of me so that I can undo her zipper. This mail-order compulsion, for any other mother, would be a wake-up call for therapy; for my mom, it would probably be considered a healthy break. I wonder if it's putting on someone else's skin for a while that she likes so much, or if it's the option of being able to send back a circumstance that just doesn't suit you. She looks at Kate, hard. "You're sure nothing hurts?"

After my mother leaves, Kate sinks a little. That's the only way to describe it - how fast color drains from her face, how she disappears against the pillows. As she gets sicker, she fades a little more, until I am afraid one day I will wake up and not be able to see her at all. "Move," Kate orders. "You're blocking the picture."

So I go to sit on my own bed. "It's only the coming attractions."

"Well, if I die tonight I want to know what I'm missing."

I fluff my pillows up under my head. Kate, as usual, has swapped so that she has all the funchy ones that don't feel like rocks under your neck. She's supposed to deserve this, because she's three years older than me or because she's sick or because the moon is in Aquarius - there's always a reason. I squint at the television, wishing I could flip through the stations, knowing I don't have a prayer. "Preston looks like he's made out of plastic."

"Then why did I hear you whispering his name last night into your pillow?"

"Shut up," I say.

"You shut up." Then Kate smiles at me. "He probably is gay, though. Quite a waste, considering the Fitzgerald sisters are -" Wincing, she breaks off mid-sentence, and I roll toward her.

"Kate?"

She rubs her lower back. "It's nothing."

It's her kidneys. "Want me to get Mom?"

"Not yet." She reaches between our beds, which are just far apart enough for us to touch each other if we both try. I hold out my hand, too. When we were little we'd make this bridge and try to see how many Barbies we could get to balance on it.

Lately, I have been having nightmares, where I'm cut into so many pieces that there isn't enough of me to be put back together.

My father says that a fire will burn itself out, unless you open a window and give it fuel. I suppose that's what I'm doing, when you get right down to it; but then again, my dad also says that when flames are licking at your heels you've got to break a wall or two if you want to escape. So when Kate falls asleep from her meds I take the leather binder I keep between my mattress and box spring and go into the bathroom for privacy. I know Kate's been snooping - I rigged up a red thread between the zipper's teeth to let me know who was prying into my stuff without my permission, but even though the thread's been torn there's nothing missing inside. I turn on the water in the bathtub so it sounds like I'm in there for a reason, and sit down on the floor to count.

If you add in the twenty dollars from the pawnshop, I have $136.87. It's not going to be enough, but there's got to be a way around that. Jesse didn't have $2,900 when he bought his beat-up Jeep, and the bank gave him some kind of loan. Of course, my parents had to sign the papers, too, and I doubt they're going to be willing to do that for me, given the circumstances. I count the money a second time, just in case the bills have miraculously reproduced, but math is math and the total stays the same. And then I read the newspaper clippings.

Campbell Alexander. It's a stupid name, in my opinion. It sounds like a bar drink that costs too much, or a brokerage firm. But you can't deny the man's track record.

To reach my brother's room, you actually have to leave the house, which is exactly the way he likes it. When Jesse turned sixteen he moved into the attic over the garage - a perfect arrangement, since he didn't want my parents to see what he was doing and my parents didn't really want to see. Blocking the stairs to his place are four snow tires, a small wall of cartons, and an oak desk tipped onto its side. Sometimes I think Jesse sets up these obstacles himself, just to make getting to him more of a challenge.

I crawl over the mess and up the stairs, which vibrate with the bass from Jesse's stereo. It takes nearly five whole minutes before he hears me knocking. "What?" he snaps, opening the door a crack.

"Can I come in?"

He thinks twice, then steps back to let me enter.

Continues...


Excerpted from My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult Copyright © 2004 by Jodi Picoult. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.


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Reading Group Guide

1) One of this novel's strengths is the way it skillfully demonstrates the subjectivity people bring to their interactions with others. The motivations of individual characters, the emotions that pull them one way or another, and the personal feelings that they inject into professional situations becomes achingly clear as we explore many different viewpoints. For example, despite Julia and Campbell's attempts to remain calm, unemotional and businesslike when they deal with one another, the past keeps seeping in, clouding their interaction. The same goes for the interaction between Sara and Anna during the trial. Is there such a thing as an objective decision in the world of this story? Is anyone capable of being totally rational, or do emotions always come into play?

2) What do you think of this story's representation of the justice system? What was your opinion of the final outcome of the trial?

3) What is your opinion of Sara? With her life focused on saving Kate, she sometimes neglects her other children. Jesse is rapidly becoming a juvenile delinquent, and Anna is invisible -- a fact that the little girl knows only too well. What does this say about Sara's role as a mother? What would you have done in her shoes? Has she unwittingly forgotten Jesse and Anna, or do you think she has consciously chosen to neglect them -- either as an attempt to save a little energy for herself, or as some kind of punishment? Does Sara resent her other children for being healthy? Did you find yourself criticizing Sara, empathizing with her, or both?

4) During a conversation about Kate, Zanne tells Sara, "No one has to be a martyr 24/7." When she mistakenly hears the word "mother" not "martyr" and is corrected by Zanne, Sara smiles and asks, "Is there a difference?" In what ways does this moment provide insight into Sara's state of mind? Do you think it strange that she sees no difference between motherhood and martyrhood?

5) Campbell is certainly a fascinating character: guarded, intelligent, caring and yet selfish at the same time. Due to these seemingly contradictory traits, it can be difficult to figure him out. As he himself admits, "motivations are not what they seem to be." At one point he states, "Out of necessity -- medical and emotional -- I have gotten rather skilled at being an escape artist." Why do you think Campbell feels that he needs to hide his illness? Is it significant that Anna is the first to break down his barriers and hear the truth? Why, for example, does he flippantly dismiss all questions regarding Judge with sarcastic remarks?

6) At one point, Campbell thinks to himself: "There are two reasons not to tell the truth -- because lying will get you what you want, and because lying will keep someone from getting hurt." With this kind of thinking, Campbell gives himself an amazingly wide berth; he effectively frees himself from speaking any semblance of the truth as long as the lie will somehow benefit himself or anyone else. Did it concern you that a lawyer would express an opinion like this? Do you think, by the end of the story, that Campbell still thinks this moral flexibility is okay? In what ways might this kind of thinking actually wind up hurting Campbell?

7) It is interesting that Campbell suffers seizures that only his dog can foresee. How might this unique relationship mirror some of the relationships between humans in this novel? In what ways does Judge introduce important ideas about loyalty and instinct?

8) On page 149, Brian is talking to Julia about astronomy and says, "Dark matter has a gravitational effect on other objects. You can't see it, you can't feel it, but you can watch something being pulled in its direction." How is this symbolic of Kate's illness? What might be a possible reason for Brian's fascination with astronomy?

9) Near the end of the novel, Anna describes "Ifspeak" -- the language that all children know, but abandon as they grow older -- remarking that "Kids think with their brains cracked wide open; becoming an adult, I've decided, is only a slow sewing shut." Do you believe this to be true? What might children teach the adults in this novel? Which adults need lessons most?

10) "It's more like we're astronauts, each wearing a separate helmet, each sustained by our own source of air." This quote comes from Anna, as she and her parents sit in silence in the hospital cafeteria. Besides being a powerful image of the family members' isolation, this observation shows Anna to be one of the wisest, most perceptive characters in this novel. Discuss the alienation affecting these characters. While it is obvious that Anna's decision to sue her parents increases that sense of alienation throughout the novel (especially for Anna herself), do you think that she has permanently harmed the family dynamic?

11) During the trial, when Dr. Campbell takes the stand, he describes the rules by which the medical ethics committee, of which he is a part, rules their cases. Out of these six principles (autonomy, veracity, fidelity, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice), which apply to Anna's lawsuit? Moreover, which of these should be applied to Anna's home situation? In other words, do you think a parent might have anything to learn from the guidelines that the doctors follow? Are there family ethics that ought to be put into place to ensure positive family dynamics? I so, what should they be?

12) Early in the legal proceedings, Anna makes a striking observation as she watches her mother slip back into her lawyer role, noting, "It is hard to believe that my mother used to do this for a living. She used to be someone else, once. I suppose we all were." Discuss the concept of change as it is presented in this story. While most of the characters seem to undergo a metamorphosis of sorts -- either emotionally or even physically (in the case of Kate), some seem more adept at it than others. Who do you think is ultimately the most capable of undergoing change and why?

13) Discuss the symbolic role that Jesse's pyromania plays in this novel, keeping in mind the following quote from Brian: "How does someone go from thinking that if he cannot rescue, he must destroy?" Why is it significant that Jesse has, in many respects, become the polar opposite of his father? But despite this, why is Jesse often finding himself in the reluctant hero position (saving Rat, delivering the baby at boot camp)? Brian himself comes to realize, in the scene where he confronts Jesse, that he and his son aren't so different. Talk about the traits that they share and the new understanding that they gain for each other by the end of the story.

14) My Sister's Keeper explores the moral, practical and emotional complications of putting one human being in pain or in danger for the well being of another. Discuss the different kinds of ethical problems that Anna, as the "designer baby," presents in this story? Did your view change as the story progressed? Why or why not? Has this novel changed any of your opinions about other conflicts in bioethics like stem cell research or genetically manipulated offspring?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 2516 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2008

    An Intriguing Read

    I have not read an intriguing and interesting book in a while. So, I was in search of ¿one of those books that you can hardly put down¿. As I skimmed through a list of various best-selling novels, I came across My Sister¿s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, which was recommended to me. Immediately I picked up the book and began to read. Sure enough, this book was nearly impossible for me to stop reading. After reading this book, I gleaned that Picoult is a fascinating writer, and this was definitely no banal story. If you are in search of a brilliantly written novel with a very interesting story line, then I would definitely recommend My Sister¿s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. <BR/> My Sister¿s Keeper is the story of a thirteen-year-old girl, Anna Fitzgerald, who was conceived as a bone marrow match for her older sister, Kate, who has leukemia. Anna has been a donor for Kate her entire life, and this story revolves around her sudden opposition and dilemmas regarding this situation. The reader is immediately enthralled to the plot the moment Anna makes an astonishing decision in one of the beginning chapters, which the rest of the story revolves around. My Sister¿s Keeper is also the story of family life and revolves around the family¿s struggle to maintain their love and support for each other. It describes how no family is perfect, and forces you to love the Fitzgerald family and feel their pain through their many hardships. It was very difficult for me to put the book down and stop reading because I was so anxious to discover the ending result of this predicament that takes place throughout the entire novel. I was shocked by the unwonted resolution, however was very satisfied. I believe this is an ideal ending because the reader cannot even predict how the story will conclude, and it is a summation to all of the present conflicts. Picoult does an excellent job at writing this end result.<BR/> The author of My Sister¿s Keeper, Jodi Picoult has a very unique and compelling writing style that gets readers hooked to her books instantaneously. Her use of description is extremely skillful, and I felt as if I were present in the plot of the story. A component of her writing that I liked was her use of numerous flashbacks. I enjoyed reading them when they appeared because it helps the reader to understand the current situation or feeling she is writing about. They were often very interesting to read, and they gave me great insight to future events in the book. Another characteristic that I am pleased by is the fact that each chapter in the novel is told by a different significant character. I value this because it is interesting to see each person¿s perspective and feelings on a certain event or circumstance. By doing this, Picoult also creates a sense of unbiased feeling. It restricts the reader from having an unfair opinion about a specific character, and allows them to create their own opinions about each character. <BR/> If you enjoy reading novels about everyday life and the complications that arise in it, then I would recommend My Sister¿s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult. Especially if you enjoy an intriguing storyline that is exceptionally well written, be sure to pick up a copy of this book. Picoult is an exceptionally fascinating writer, and after reading this masmasterpiece I will be sure to read one her other novels in the near future. It is a book of emotion, attachment, and suffering that keeps the reader interested for the entire story.

    32 out of 37 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2008

    Tear Jerker

    Anna Fitzgerald is the thirteen year old protagonist of My Sister¿s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult. She was brought into this world for one reason and one reason only. She was conceived to save her older sister Kate, who at age two was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia. With the help of advanced medical science, Sara and Brian Fitzgerald, Kate¿s parents, had the opportunity to conceive a baby who was an exact donor match for Kate. So began Anna Fitzgerald¿s life of self sacrifice. <BR/>From the time she was born, Anna has been helping her sister Kate. Immediately after birth, her blood was drawn to donate to Kate. There was not time to waste; Kate¿s life was at stake. In the years that followed Anna donated lymphocytes three times, then a bone marrow, and then blood stem cells. She became disheartened with her role in life. Although Kate was her best friend, Anna wanted her parents to love her for who she was. Not because she was saving her sister. When Anna¿s parents tell her she has to donate a kidney to keep Kate alive, she breaks down. She has spent as much time in the hospital as Kate and just wants to be free of obligation. To that end, Anna seeks out the services of a highly driven attorney, Campbell Alexander. His job is to help Anna get medical emancipation from her parents. <BR/>Along with the medical drama, Picoult infuses humor, romance, family troubles and intriguing subplots throughout the novel. This book is tear-jerking, uplifting, emotional, heart-wrenching and an extremely powerful story about the Fitzgerald family. The author clearly illustrates how this family is united by their love for each other, but divided on where the boundaries of family obligations should be. This confession leads to Anna and her father Brian moving out to stay at the fire station where Brian works. They leave their depart home, leaving behind Sara, the overpowering mother, Kate, the dying sister, and Jesse, the helpless older brother. <BR/>Jodi Picoult has an incredible capability of captivating her readers as they struggle to find answers to the moral questions she presents. She presents both sides of the conflict with such compassion and sympathy that your beliefs may change. The authors writing style is creative, as each chapter is narrated by a different character. The reader gets to know each character and understand their point of view in the ongoing struggle. <BR/>When finished with the novel you will realize there are no easy or even right answers. One person can not be judged for what they believe is moral or ethical, or even tenable. Picoult has done an outstanding job of presenting the issue in this novel. She takes this conflicting topic and handles it with an infinite amount of insight to each characters needs. My Sister¿s Keeper examines what it means to be good parents, a good sister and a good person. The novel engages the reader from the first page until the very last. It is a heart-wrenching novel with an unexpected plot twist at the book¿s conclusion. This book is an absolute must read!

    13 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2011

    GREAT GREAT GREAT BOOK! READ READ READ IT!

    If you like well length books that will keep you intrigued until the end and is completely awesome, this is your type of book. If you watched the movie YOU WILL ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE BOOK! READ READ READ!!

    12 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 31, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Finished my first book on Nook

    My wife had told me to read this book for a long time because she knows I enjoy multiperspective stories. It was a really good but heartbreaking story. As a parent of two healthy children I know I am very lucky.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 15, 2009

    My sister's keeper, WONDERFUL!

    My Sister's Keeper is a powerful novel about a strong willed thirteen year old filing a lawsuit against her own family. The independent teen, Anna Fitzgerald, has decided to seek legal help when she decides that she no longer wants to be the life support of her sick sister Kate. Providing blood transfusions, injections, and countless surgeries, she decides that she no longer wants to be known only in relation to Kate. Now thirteen, Anna puts her foot down and fights for the right to medical emancipation. Aware the brutal consequences of this act, Anna battles with her mother with her decisions and with finding herself individually along the way. In and out of court, Anna has to deal with the guilt and expectations of her family to save her sisters life. This novel is filled with humor, romance, and tear jerking words when Kate meets a boy with Cancer and falls in love. Throughout a few chapters, Kate is doing well when suddenly the unexpected happens and her dear friend dies from his disease. This goes to show how the author (Jodi Picoult) can really use the element of surprise, and really throw you for a loop; this is one of the books many strengths, you never know what is going to happen next! The book is written from a perspective that I have never read from before. Jodi writes from all the main character's perspectives, to give you the best idea of all that is going on. The writing is not always proper, and I personally found that this made it more interesting when Picoult occasionally used the slang and slander of a common teenager. My Sister's Keeper is the story of a struggling family, which teaches the wonderful lesson of being thankful for all that you have in your life. I personally will take away from this book, that I should always be gracious for health of my family." You can stay up all night and still not count the ways to lose people you love." This is a great book, I strongly would suggest it!

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I thought it was really good... with an exception

    I thought the book was really good. I hated Sara, I thought Brian was a great father, and as mean as it sounds... I really wanted Kate to die. Now, don't think I'm an evil person. It is just that I wanted her to die so Anna could be free, so Sara would notice her other kids, so Jesse would stop doing those bad things, etc. I hated Sara becuse even though she said she loved her kids... she definetly had favorites and her other kids went unnoticed. I admire Brian because he realized what he was doing was wrong and then he changed. That is, he took time with his other kids. The one reason I didn't like this book was because I thought it should have been a little more... I don't know...exciting. There wasn't really much suspense. However, over all I loved the book I finished it in a day... yeah, I liked it that much.

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2004

    Fantastic, Touching-- Potentially too close to home

    JodiÊPicoult has done it again, written a moving novel based on a controversial subject, and done so with grace, sensitivity and aplomb. Touching on many of the issues concerning the genetic conception and the use of cord blood, and it's potential for misuse, this novel reads like a story ripped from the headlines, and then successfully pulls you into the Fitzgerald home, lives and hearts. You too, find your self faced with the dilemas of 'How far is too far.' And then, just when you are sure you have made your decision, the foundation crumbles beneath you. Hard to put down... I highly reccomend, 'My Sister's Keeper.'

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2012

    True sisters

    No movie will compare to the book. Heart warming and heart wrenching all at once.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2012

    Amazing

    When I read this book, I felt for the charaters because they were quite belivable and when the end came I cried because it was very unexpected... This book is a must read.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2012

    Excellent Book

    This book kept me captivated the entire time I was reading it. I never expected the ending....sad ending....

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2004

    Second Picoult novel with implausible ending

    I read this book after reading and enjoying Perfect Match. The subject matter and presentation of the story line in this book was more interesting. There are several overlaps though: mother is lawyer who thinks she's unbeatable, mother neglects everyone but sick or damaged child, blue collar husband who is emotional anchor, drawn out legal battle, etc. I guess what bothers me most is as a reader I appreciate good characterization so I don't want to be duped at the end by a surprise, implausible ending which occurred in both books.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2012

    This book > air

    This book had me in tears. It made me cry and cry, laugh,smile, scream so loud people around me thought I was crazy, dance around in public and sob in my pillow for half an hour. This book is the definition of amazing, brilliant, fantastic, and beautiful. The characters touched my heart so much. And the ending. To me. Was perfect. And though it wasnt happy. This book isnt for peoplr who want a "they all lived happily ever after" story. Its for people who want to know real life. What acctualy happens. And how unfair it is. This book was so beautiful. I didnt want it to end. Thank you Judi. You have taught me a lesson. And you are truly perfect. And you have created a flawless story. Thank you. So much.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2012

    So good

    I love Jodi's approach of each chapter being narrated by a different character. And the ending couldn't be better!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2005

    Interesting, yet disappointing

    This book was enjoyable and had a great topic, but not as well written as Ms. Picoult's other novels. The development of relationships was disappointing, particularly that of Kate and Anna. There was no strong sense of sisterhood. Campbell's attitude toward his personal and mysterious situation was outdated and perpetuating of myth. The book left me with a feeling that it had been published too soon and needed more work to keep it up to the standards of this author's previous novels. However, it is with great anticipation that I look forward to more of Jodi Picoult's work.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2012

    LOVED IT

    Absolutely well written- there wasn't a moment where I became bored with it at all. I stayed up til 4am just to finish it! I recommended it to all of my friends.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2010

    My sisters Keeper

    This BOOK was very good and very intersting. It makes you want to keep on reading till you are finished with it. And when you get to the end you are so surpised and so confused on why the little girl went to court.i think this book was absolutely fantastic! The movies ending on the other hand i was very, very, disappointed.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Read

    I really wasn't sure if I was going to even like this book. This is not usually the type of book that I read. I was surprised once I started reading I that I could not put it down. I finished it in two days. The subject behind the plot was so interesting. I found myself wondering what I would do in a similar situation. I even asked my friends what they would do if it was happening to them. The characters were so involving. I could relate to each and every character, on some level. Jodi Picoult is an amazing writer I would definately read another one of her books. The emotion just seeps off the page. I cried, laughed, and was even angry at one point or another throughout the book. The ending was a complete surprise for me. Just when you think you have everything figured out a new twist reveals itself. A great book for a long weekend because once you start you won't be able to wait to see what happens.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2009

    My Sisters Keeper is a very powerful and captivating story for any reader to love.

    The charecters were extremely easy to relate to and I found myself easily involved in the story. Jodi Picoult draws you in and leaves the reader wanting more and more! What amazing story about the joy and love of not only an extraordinary sisterly bond, but also the adaptation that families endure when such a tragedy as cancer is present in one they love! I would recommend this wonderful story to anyone!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2014

    This book is a keeper! I loved My Sister¿s Keeper by Jodi Picoul

    This book is a keeper! I loved My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult and think it deserves five stars. Thirteen-year-old Anna Fitzgerald is her leukemic sister Kate’s blood and possible-kidney donor.  She is faced with a decision that could leave many people unhappy. Should she donate one of her genetically-matched kidneys to Kate when she doesn’t want to? 
    Sara, Anna’s mother, does everything she can to keep Kate alive, even at the expense of her other children. The author uses multiple perspectives to bring Sara’s motivations to light. Campbell can make you laugh, while you sympathize for the neglected Jesse.
    Ms. Picoult also displayed a deep understanding of leukemia treatment and legal processions. I was pleased with the decision Judge DeSalvo made in Anna’s case. 
    The figurative language is like chocolate chip cookies. Brian and Anna use the most metaphors and symbolisms. 
    The end is shocking, but satisfactory enough to bring closure to the Fitzgerald household. All in all, I recommend this five-star worthy book to you.
    SaumyaCHMS14

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2013

    Phenominal book.

    This is honestly one of the best books I have ever read. The last five pages and epilogue brought me to tears. A great concept and extremely well written. I enjoyed reading Jesse's and Campbells point of view. This is a book I will be sure to recommmened and read again.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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