Sunday, 10 June 2012


By:Nicole Hajjar

In the novel, My Sister’s Keeper, there are two main themes, right vs. wrong, and sisterhood.

The novel illustrates the fine line between what is right and what is wrong. Kate is dying from cancer but can be saved with her sister Anna’s kidney. There is no legal obligation for Anna to donate her organ. The surgery would be painful for Anna, and carries some severe health risks. She has already undergone several operations in order to prolong Kate’s prognosis. Her mother Sara believes she must do whatever it takes to save Kate, she cannot view life without her. However her father Brian struggles to find the right answer. He is guilty for putting Anna through so much for Kate, and is able to accept fatal state.  

Anna struggles to find herself, and believes she only has one purpose in life, to save Kate’s. She is aware that her mother and father, with the help of a geneticist, chose her so she could help her sister.  Kate’s brother Jesse was not a match. She describes how most kids are really just accidents, and comprehends her responsibility as Kate’s sister. She feels as though she should save Kate, but also wants to develop an individual identity. Throughout the novel, she describes how life would be easier without Kate and feels as though she could live without her. However, she does not want to upset her mother, and has a hard time telling her that she won’t save Kate.

In the courtroom, Judge DeSalvo also has difficulty determining what is acceptable and what is not. Campbell, representing Anna, tries to explain that she has no obligation to donate, and that she has already done so in the past. Sara, representing herself, and her husband Brian, expresses her concern for both her daughters. However, she insists Anna must donate to Kate because it is the right thing to do. Brian feels more guilty about what they have put Anna through while trying to save Kate but cannot decided what to do. In the end, Anna receives medical emancipation, and her lawyer receives her medical power of attorney.

Right vs. wrong quotes
 “There are so many things that I have to work hard at now, that I used to be able to carry out instinctively-draw in oxygen, keep my silence, do the right thing.” - Anna

 “There are some things we do because we convince ourselves it would be better for everyone involved. We tell ourselves that it’s the right thing to do…” - Campbell

“‘The answer is that there is no good answer. So as parents, as doctors, as judges, and as a society, we fumble through and make decisions that allow us to sleep at night—because morals are more important than ethics, and love is more important than law.’” - Judge DeSalvo

“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.” - Anna

“They don’t really pay attention to me, except when they need my blood or something. I wouldn't be alive, if it wasn’t for Kate being sick. - Anna”

“Although I am nine months pregnant, although I have had plenty of time to dream, I have not really considered the specifics of this child. I have thought of this daughter only in terms of what she will be able to do for the daughter I already have. I haven’t admitted this to Brian, who lies at night with his head on my considerable belly, waiting for the twitches that herald-he thinks-the first female placekicker for the Patriots. Then again, my dreams for her are no less exalted; I plan for her to save her sister’s life.” - Sara

“‘When we had Anna,’ I remind Brian, ‘We knew that she was going to be a donor for Kate.’” - Sara
“‘Once. And she doesn’t have any memory of us doing that to her.’” - Brian

“‘She is dying Sara. She will die, either tonight or tomorrow or maybe a year from now if we’re really lucky. You heard what Dr. Chance said. Arsenic’s not a cure. It just postpones what’s coming.’” - Brian

“‘ Certainly the Fitzgeralds have always believed that having Kate alive and part of the family was crucial-but at this point the sanctity of Kate’s existence has become completely intertwined with the quality of Anna’s life…” - Judge DeSalvo

The second theme that carries through My Sister’s Keeper is sisterhood. There are three sets of sisters in the novel, Sara and Zanne, Julia and Izzy, and of course Anna and Kate. Zanne helps out her sister when there is an issue with Kate. She comes over to her house to take care of the other kids. Sara is comforted by her sister and describes her as a ‘built-in best friend’. Julia lets her sister Izzy move in with her when her girlfriend dumps her. She takes care of her whenever there’s an issue.

The main sisters in the novel are Anna and Kate. They both love each other very much, and share a literal bond. Kate has Anna’s blood constantly flowing in her veins. Anna is Kate’s savior, the one that has made it possible for her to live. Several operations and procedures later though, Anna finds herself seeking medical emancipation to terminate her role as a hero. We learn that Kate was actually the one who wanted the lawsuit because she felt so bad for her sister. In the end, Anna is the one who passes away tragically. Her kidney goes to Kate, who lives out her dream to become a dance teacher. She has a hard time getting over losing her sister, and blames herself for Anna’s death. Time passes, and life grows easier for Kate. She knows that her and her sister will always share a special bond.

Sisterhood quotes
“Jesse is wrong-I didn’t come to see Kate because it would make me feel better. I came because without her, it’s hard for me to remember who I am.” - Anna

“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?” - Anna

“Only one thing’s a constant. ‘Ten years from now,’ I say, ‘I’d like to be Kate’s sister.’” - Anna

“Once upon a time, I thought I was put on this earth to save my sister. In the end, I couldn't do it. I realize now, that wasn't the point. The point was, I had a sister. She was fantastic! One day I'm sure I'll see her again. But until then, my relationship continues..... ” - Anna

“Zanne strokes my hair and lets me cry. ‘It is so hard sometimes,’ I confess, words I have not said to anyone, not even Brian.” - Sara                        

“She is the person I ran to when I got my period; the one who helped me knit back together my first broken heart; the hand I would reach for in the middle of the night when I could no longer remember which side our father parted his hair on, or what it sounded like when our mother laughed. No matter what she is now, before all that, she was my built-in best friend. ‘Zanne?’ I say. ‘How are you.’” -Sara

“Isobel is three minutes older than me, but I’ve always been the one who takes care of her. I’m her nuclear bomb: when there’s something upsetting her, I go in and lay waste to it, whether that’s one of our six older brothers teasing her or the evil Janet, who decided she wasn’t gay after seven years into a committed relationship with Izzy.” -Julia


1.) Do you find that Anna’s choice to seek medical emancipation selfish? If so, why?
2.) Do you think Judge DeSalvo made the right choice in granting Anna medical emancipation? What would you have done if you were the judge?
3.)If you were Anna, do you think you would share her struggle to find individuality or take pride in saving your sister? 
4.) Do you think it was right for Anna’s parents to put her through painful and sometimes risky operations in order to save Kate?
5.) Do you think Sara and Brian neglected Anna and Jesse? If so, why?
6.) If you were Kate, do you think you would share her struggle to deal with the guilt of putting your sister through so many operations, or would you simply find them necessary? Explain.
7.) Do you agree with Sara’s choice to see a geneticist in order to choose a baby that would be a perfect match for Kate? Explain.
8.) Has there ever been a situation where you had a hard time defining the line between right and wrong? Explain.
9.) All the sisters in the novel share a special bond with each other. Do you have a sibling that you are closely connected you? Explain.
10.) Which theme do you think was more important to the novel, right vs. wrong or sisterhood? Explain.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012


By:Jennifer Sipos

          The book My Sister’s Keeper starts out through thirteen-year-old Anna Fitzgerald’s point of view. She goes on to explain that she was put on Earth for a reason; to save her sister. Anna’s parents, Brian and Sara, found out their eldest daughter Kate had an aggressive form of leukemia when she was only a toddler. Because of the severity of Kate’s disease and her need for bone marrow, Kate and Brian turned to a geneticist to help them “engineer” a baby that had the same characteristics as Kate. A baby that would help save Kate’s life. Within the first five chapters of the book, it is quite obvious why the name is My Sister’s Keeper.

Anna is finally fed up with constantly having medical procedures, painful ones especially, done to her in order to help Kate. It is primarily based on Anna’s fear of giving one of her kidneys to Kate. Because of this, Anna seeks out a witty attorney named Campbell Alexander, who comes with a loveable service dog “Judge”, and he will later help her sue her parents for the right to her own body.

Sara finally finds out that her youngest daughter is suing her, and she nearly explodes with anger. She cannot wrap her head around why Anna would ever make a decision, like the one she is making, that could potentially end her sister’s life. After this, the plot has a steady beat of Sara trying to convince Anna out of suing her and Anna timidly standing her ground.

There are about two mini-plots that are introduced throughout the story. The first is when Julia, Anna’s appointed Guardian Ad Litem, comes to save Anna from her “walking on eggshells” lifestyle. When Julia goes to see Campbell, readers learn that they had been in a relationship together when they were both in private school. They both continue with their love/hate relationship throughout the novel. The second mini-plot is Anna and Kate’s older brother Jesse’s attention-seeking actions. On numerous occasions he makes reckless decisions such as starting fires in abandoned warehouses, letting Anna try a cigarette, and making his own moonshine in his room. At times he becomes the comic-relief of the novel.

Kate’s condition gets worse when she doesn’t receive the kidney that Anna was supposed to supply her with. Anna feels guilty about Kate’s increasing pain and illness but still she stands her ground and continues to file the law suit against her parents. Anna takes the stand at the trial and admits that Kate was the one who told her to file the lawsuit in the first place. She explains what Kate told her, that she was tired of being sick and constantly on the brink of death.

At this point Campbell collapses and endures an epileptic seizure. He then goes on to explain that he has his service dog “Judge” because he can tell when a seizure is going to come on. He also admits that his seizures were the reason he broke up with Julia when they were younger, because he didn’t want his seizures to limit Julia as they limit himself. Julia and Campbell later make peace with one another.

Back to the trial, the Judge makes his decision and gives Anna medical emancipation and gives Campbell medical power of attorney over Anna. Campbell and Anna get into the car to go to the hospital, so Anna can tell Kate that she “won” the case. On the way to the hospital, they get into a serious car accident. Campbell makes it out alive but once at the hospital, the doctors rule Anna brain dead.

Anna’s family is devastated. The doctor tells Sara that Anna is eligible for being an organ donor. Campbell then tells the doctors to give Anna’s kidney to Kate.

An epilogue takes place in 2010, and Kate is living healthy. She explains that her family was solemn for a long time after Anna’s death, but she ends the book by saying “I think about her kidney working inside me and her blood running through my veins. I take her with me, wherever I go.”


1.) Why did Anna choose to continue the law suit, no matter how hard her mother tried to convince her otherwise?
2.) Why did Sara and Brian go to see a geneticist?
3.) Why do you think the author made Julia and Campbell have a past with each other?
4.) What elements did Campbell Alexander bring into the novel?
5.) What was Anna’s main goal in this novel?
6.) What was the Judge’s ruling?
7.) What do you think the Judge’s ruling would have been if Kate had not told Anna to file the lawsuit?
8.) Why was Jesse important to the novel? What elements did his character bring?
9.) What is Julia’s relationship to Anna? Why was she brought into the novel?
10.) What is Sara’s initial reaction when she finds out Anna is suing her and Brian for the rights to her own body?

Thursday, 24 May 2012


By: Alex Wilkinson

The book My Sister’s Keeper is a heart wrenching read with a tragic end and, really, it’s that characters that make it so.  They’re all so well-rounded, so descriptive, so emotionally appealing that you can’t help but feel they’re people who have lived across the street from you for years.  Neighbours you just begun to get to know and understand.  There are so many characters in this book, so I must pick and choose the ones I try to explain.  I’ll analyze the three most important characters in this blog.

Anna Fitzgerald is by far the most conflicted and troubled character in this book.  The thirteen year old is constantly trying to separate herself from her extremely sick sister. She is searching for her identity so that she might fill out her sister’s wish to die properly.  But, she also tells Campbell that out of all the things she wants to be in ten years, she wants to Kate’s sister the most.  These two ideals of wanting nothing more than for her sister to live, and her wish that her sister would die so she might be independent are contradictory and make up the core of Anna’s character.   In trying to make herself play the role of the awful child after suing her parents to fulfil her sister’s wish, she tries smoking and being more like her older brother Jesse.  Though the entire lawsuit brings her tremendous guilt, she keeps it going so she might give her sister her wish. This also plays into the idea that pops up over and over that she was conceived for one reason; Kate’s illness.  At the end of the book, it would seem as though Anna did what she was conceived to do, cure her sister.

Sara Fitzgerald is the most controversial character in this book.  People both empathize and criticize her character for the decision she makes throughout the book.  Though, really, what would you have done in her situation?  Could you have done any better?  This is not to say that she was the best mother; she was blinded by her daughter Kate’s illness and completely gave up on her son, Jesse, while managing to make her other daughter, Anna, fell completely and utterly invisible.  There is never a doubt that she loves both Anna and Jesse, but it seems that all her relationships (including those with her husband, Brian, and her sister, Suzanne) revolve around Kate.  For instance, the only times she ever really sees her sister is when she needs her to babysit Jesse and Anna, and finds it difficult to talk to her husband about anything other than Kate’s illness.  Even with Kate she focuses more on her daughter’s physical health than her mental health.  Sara is unable to truly understand her children throughout most of the book.

Campbell Alexander develops emotionally throughout the novel.  He starts off as a sarcastic, aloof, selfish person who avoids all emotional contact; his only friend being his service dog, Judge.  This persona begins to unravel though as he takes Anna Fitzgerald’s lawsuit against her parents, at first taking it just to gain more publicity and credit for his pro bono work.  Soon after taking the case, it’s assigned a guardian ad litem; his old girlfriend name Julia.  This brings up more problems for him as he is unable to get over the feelings he still has for her, helping him open up more as she convinces him to really get to know Anna.  In the end, Campbell (though still sarcastic) is more trusting, open, and truly cares for Anna and her family.  He also ends up showing his disability to all those he has come to care for in court, and winds up with Julia, fulfilling the longing they’ve both felt for so long.

You may disagree with my choices for the three most important characters, but I do hope my analyses have given you more to think about.  Here are some questions I’ve drawn up to get you thinking some more:

1.       Who was your favourite character? Why?
2.       What character did you feel you really connected to? Why?
3.       Do you empathize or criticize Sara’s character? Why?
4.       Do you feel that Anna already had an identity of her own? Why or why not?
5.       What do you think was the main reason for Sara’s focus on Kate’s physical health?
6.       What do you think is the key trait in Anna’s character? Did it add or take away from the story?
7.       Who do you think was the lead protagonist? Why?
8.       Who was the antagonistic character? Why?
9.       Does Anna show emotional development throughout the novel? Expand.
10.   What does Campbell’s character development add to the story?

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


By: Elissa King

In the novel, “My Sister’s Keeper,” by Jodi Picoult, the setting is described by the location of where the novel occurs and the time period.  The location of the setting in the novel takes place in a small town of Upper Darby in the state of Rhodes Island.   The author describes this town as a place where they have “a very small legal system”.  The two principal and equally important location settings in the novel are the Providence Hospital and the Fitzgerald’s house.  Both locations are equally important because when the main characters are not at the hospital, the novel revolves around their home life.  At least two of the characters are always at the hospital in every chapter. Since Kate Fitzgerald has had leukemia since she was a toddler, she and her family have had to go to the hospital frequently so she can receive treatments for her illness.  Even though the Fitzgerald family is almost always at the hospital, the author never really describes this setting location. However, the setting of the Fitzgerald house, the author describes it in detail and refers to it as, “a typical American House”. The Fitzgerald family have a three bedroom house. There is also an attic room above the two-door garage, and aluminum siding around the house and the garage.  Anna and Kate share one of the bedrooms and Jesse has the attic room to himself. The living room is filled with pictures of mostly Kate and Jesse and a few but not many of Anna. The walk way leading up to the front door of the house is lined with well tended flowers. 
Another part of the setting is the time period which is between 1990 and 2010. The author writes the novel jumping from past to present to tell the reader what is happening in the story.  The author starts to talk about one part of the novel, for example, Anna going to find a lawyer to help her sue her parents for the right to her own medical decisions, and then suddenly the setting switches to the past when Anna wasn’t born and when Kate was first finding out that she has leukemia.  The author does this switching back and forth between the past and present time constantly.

1. Why do you think the author choose to describe the town as having “a small legal system”?
2. Why did the author choose a small town for a setting instead of a big city like New York?
3. Why would the author not use the court room as the main setting and instead chose to use the hospital?
4. The author describes the house as a “Typical American family”.  Why do you think she did so?
5. Why do you think the author didn’t describe the hospital?
6. The setting wasn’t described all at once when it was introduced. Instead the setting was described in little sentences hidden throughout the novel. Why did the author do so?
7. Why did you think the author chose to jump back and forth from present day to the past throughout the novel?
8. Why do you that the two sisters share a room even thought there are three children and three rooms, not including the parents room?
9. Why do you think the author chose to isolate Jesse’s room from the others in the house by moving into the attic room above the garage?
10. Why did each of the characters describe a max of 2 lines for each setting but yet none of them finished their description of the setting?