My Sister Keeper – Jodi Picoult
Book Finished: 13th October
We make decisions every day. Toast or cereal for breakfast? Coffee or tea? Should I give my dying sister my kidney or not? Some decisions are obviously more complex than others. In ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ written by Jodi Picoult, kidney decisions are Anna Fitzgeralds biggest dilemma. Anna is the protagonist in the book and was conceived as a ‘saviour sister’, especially to save her older sister Kate’s life after she was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukaemia. Initially, this was successful, but cancer continues to relapse as Kate gets older. After discovering she needs to donate a kidney, Anna decides that she is getting sick of endless medical procedures and surgeries that could end up affecting her own life – so she decides to sue her parents for medical emancipation.
One of the most outstanding themes in the novel is the bonding of sisters. This idea appears repeatedly throughout the book – represented through Anna and Kate, their mum Sara and aunty Zanne, and twin sisters Izzy and Julia who are partly involved in the book through Campbell – Anna’s attorney. The relationship between the pairs of siblings has the greatest effect on the plot. Sara and Zanne are a significant pairing and Zanne appeared frequently throughout the book- from offering money to the family for Kate’s treatment, to babysitting Anna and her brother Jesse when the family was at the hospital. Anna and Kates bond, however, is the strongest in the book and makes up the plot of the story. Their bond is very intense and holds a different dynamic to the other sisters because of Annas donor relationship to her sister, her role in Kate’s survival is a blessing and a curse for both of the girls. At one stage in the book, Anna refers her relationship with Kate to that of Siamese twins: “Kate and I are Siamese twins; you just can’t see the spot where we’re connected. Which makes separation that much more different.” This quote shows how much of an in-depth relationship they have, not only from sharing everything about their lives to each other but also the fact that they are so interconnected as Kate’s body is practically Anna and her blood runs through Kate’s veins. When Kate’s cancer is relapsing,
Anna is constantly thinking to herself throughout the book, what would happen to her if her sister dies. She is worried that she will lose her best friend, her family will hate her forever and she won’t know what to do with her life. One night while Kate is in the hospital after a relapse, Anna thinks: “If you have a sister and she dies, do you stop saying you have one? Or are you always a sister, even when the other half of the equation is gone?” This showing that Anna doesn’t actually know how to live without Kate. With their bond being due to more than one medium (family, donor) Anna believes that if Kate did die, she would no longer have a purpose. Anna becomes so paranoid and unaware of how she would contemplate this death not just herself, but how she would explain this to other people. However, with the tragic ending for Anna at the conclusion of the book the tables are turned for Kate as she can see things and feel things for Anna they way Anna once felt for her: scared, upset and lonely. This develops Kate’s perspective of their sister hood bond as she is suddenly thrown in the deep end of being alone and without her sister when all through the book we thought it would be the other way around.
I think this theme shown through the ‘saviour sister’ side of the book, sparks a lot of interest for a reader. I don’t think topics like Anna and Kate’s relationship are brought up very often in society and I had never heard about this kind of relationship to have a child born to save another before. I believe this adds quite a bit of interest for the reader as it kind of adds something to the book that encourages you to keep reading to contemplate this relationship and idea and find out more about how it works.
I would recommend this book to year 12 and 13 students. I think it brings up important themes and topics that aren’t so commonly brought up in society today and should be shared with each other. With the story being told from different perspectives: Anna, Campbell (Anna’s lawyer), Sara and Brian (her parents) Jesse (her brother), Julia (Campbell’s friend) and Kate in the epilogue (her sister) it can assist the reader to believe the reality of the situation and seeing the truth behind each person’s eyes. With more than one narrative point of view, I think the reader could also relate more to one person’s perspective of the story and see it from this person relation: for example, if you were a mother you would relate to Sara and if you were a sister you could relate more to Anna and Kate.