Study Guide

My Sister's Keeper

by Jodi Picoult

My Sister's Keeper Essay - Critical Essays

My Sister’s Keeper

In My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult weaves a gripping tale of pathos, humor, and love. As thirteen-year-old Anna Fitzgerald struggles to define herself as a person apart from her sister Kate, Picoult exposes the universal truths of human relationships. Life is full of choices and consequences. Love demands risks and sacrifice; self-examination and sharing. As the characters unfold, in their own words, the importance of communication emerges as a unifying theme.

Kate Fitzgerald is dying of acute promyelocytic leukemia. A kidney transplant is her only hope. Anna’s parents assume without question, that she will offer her kidney. Aware that she was conceived to be a genetic match, and ongoing donor for Kate, Anna wants a chance to live her own life. Though she loves her sister dearly, Anna retains Campbell Alexander, seeking medical emancipation, knowing that without the surgery Kate will die.

Thus begins the saga of seven lives intertwined in ways none could ever have imagined. Anna forces a legal confrontation that compels each character to examine the relationships in their lives. Sara Fitzgerald has focused obsessively on Kate’s medical needs, unwittingly ignoring the needs of other family members. Brian, a firefighter, finds respite from his family’s ills on the job, and in the stars, which become a metaphor for life.

Jesse, eighteen, is the family misfit. Unable to help Kate, he is wracked by guilt. A rebel, he becomes an unlikely healing force. As the court proceedings swirl around Anna, all involved are forced to reckon with the ghosts of their pasts and the paths they have chosen.

Picoult addresses the ethics of the situation only tangentially. The ending is superbly crafted, literally pulling the reader into the text. This is a cosmic tale about relationships and endurance, and the ability of love to change lives forever.