My Sister’s Keeper Summary

Jodi Picoult

My Sister’s Keeper

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My Sister’s Keeper Summary

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My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult is a story about a girl who was conceived to be a donor for her sister, and no other reason. Her name is Anna Fitzgerald, and at the age of thirteen, she hires an attorney to sue her parents in the hope of regaining the rights to her own body. Her sister, Kate, three years older than her, is battling Leukemia. Anna has always donated to Kate, to keep her alive so that she could battle her disease, and now Anna’s parents want her to donate a kidney. The stakes are high for her to win her suit, as it would give her the right to refuse to donate.

Anna and Kate have an older brother, Jesse. Their parents’ names are Brian and Sara. Sara was a lawyer before she became a housewife, and Brian works at a local firehouse. When Anna files her suit, Sara tries to convince her to drop it. She wants her to donate her kidney to help Kate. Brian, on the other hand, is not on Anna’s side, nor is he against her. He is torn, and when Anna moves out of their home, she goes to stay at the firehouse.

Jesse has not been handling Kate’s diagnosis well. He starts drinking and using drugs. Jesse begins to steal and gets into arson. He has been setting fires around town that Brian and the other firefighters have had to put out.When Brian finds out his son is behind the fires, he confronts him. Brian learns that Jesse has been deeply affected by Kate’s illness, and so he decides to keep it to himself that Jesse is the arsonist. Eventually, Jesse stops stealing, starting fires, using drugs, and drinking alcohol. He ends up becoming a police officer.

Meanwhile, the hearing for Anna’s lawsuit takes place. The judge, DeSalvo, who lost his child in a car accident caused by drunk driving, assigns Anna to stay with a guardian ad litem. That guardian is Julia Romano, who knows Anna’s lawyer, Campbell. They both attended the same private high school. They dated, until Campbell called off their relationship when they graduated. Julia did not know why Campbell dumped her, but always suspected it was the difference in their social standing—Campbell comes from a wealthy family and Julia attended the posh school on a scholarship. When Anna’s case brings them together again, their attraction becomes obvious despite their intention to remain professional throughout the lawsuit.

Campbell has a service dog,though he has no obvious disability;he refuses to tell anyone the dog’s purpose. Meanwhile, Julia and Campbell sleep together, but Campbell leaves early, which makes Julia feel hurt and confused. During Anna’s testimony, Campbell has a seizure. Once he recuperates, the reader learns that Campbell was in a car accident as a teenager that left him epileptic,which is why he broke up with Julia all those years ago. When she learns this truth, she offers to support him, and they get married.

Sara, who is representing herself and Brian in the lawsuit, calls her witnesses. So too does Campbell. The main question the witnesses are trying to help answer is whether Anna is old enough and mature enough to take charge of her own health. Julia is supposed to make a report on whether she thinks Anna should be allowed her independence from her parents, but when the time comes, she Is not sure which side of the fence she’s on. Anna is the last on the witness stand, and she testifies that Kate, who had become suicidal, did not want her to give up her kidney for her. Anna reveals that this was the reason she started the lawsuit.

Judge DeSalvo ultimately finds in Anna’s favor, and gives power of attorney for medical concerns to Campbell. As they are leaving the courthouse, Campbell and Anna are in an accident. Brian is among the first responders, and though they try to save Anna, she is declared brain dead. The doctor suggests organ donation, and she is taken off life support. Her kidney is donated to Kate, who recovers and goes on to live her life free of Leukemia. She becomes a dance teacher, and lives in gratitude for Anna’s gift to her.

There are many themes present in My Sister’s Keeper, but the two most prominent are control and ethical dilemmas. Anna strives to control her own fate based on the idea that conceiving her simply to provide donations to her sick sister was unethical. Is one child’s well being worth trading for that of another?

Jodi Picoult is a prolific writer and has published works in many genres, from mysteries to literary fiction since her debut novel, Nineteen Minutes, which was published in 2007 and made the New York Times bestsellers list. Before writing novels, Picoult worked for DC Comics, writing for Wonder Woman.