Published in 2004, My Sister's Keeper is the story of a family, the Fitzgeralds, whose daughter, Kate, has been diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia, called APL, at the age of 2. Her parents, Sara and Brian, attempt to keep Kate alive by having a third child through in vitro fertilization, one who will be a perfect genetic match for Kate. Soon after Anna is born, she donates her cord blood, which is rich in stem cells, to Kate. When the leukemia returns Anna donates blood and bone marrow. This is just the beginning of a series of medical procedures which Anna endures for years to help prolong her sister's life. But Kate's chronic, life-threatening illness takes a heavy toll on the entire family, including her destructive brother, Jesse, who is having a particularly hard time coping. When Kate's kidneys fail at the age of 16, Anna, who is 13, is expected to donate one of her kidneys--this is Kate's only chance for survival. But instead Anna hires a lawyer, Campbell (who works for her pro bono), to help her become medically emancipated from her parents in order that she may gain the right to make her own medical decisions. Let me stop here, because I don't want to give away too much of the plot of this book, which is beautiful, heartbreaking, and honest, and also surprising at times. It asks us to consider important questions, to which there are no simple or easy answers, such as how much we are willing to do and sacrifice for those we love.
Each chapter in this book is told by the point of view of the various main characters--Anna, Kate, Jesse, Sara, Brian, Campbell, and Julia. I don't always like shifting perspectives in books, but it works well here and tells the story from many points of view, giving readers a broader understanding of the characters and issues involved.
You've probably seen the billboards for My Sister's Keeper, which will be released as a movie starring Cameron Diaz, Abigail Breslin, and Joan Cusack, on June 26, 2009. I'll bring tissues to the movie theater when I go see it. If you go, I advise you to do the same.
View the movie trailer for My Sister's Keeper.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts on My Sister's Keeper or recommend other books by Jodi Picoult in the comments. (Read comments for the main differences between the book and the movie.)