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My Sister’s Keeper

Jodi Picoult

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions & Essay Topics

full title ·  My Sister’s Keeper

author · Jodi Picoult

type of work · Novel

genre · Commercial Fiction; Women’s Fiction; Tragedy

language · English

time and place written · 2004, New Hampshire

date of first publication · January 1, 2004

publisher · Washington Square Press

narrator · Multiple narrators alternate throughout the book. These narrators are Anna, Jesse, Kate, Brian, and Sara Fitzgerald, Campbell Alexander, and Julia Romano. The chapters narrated by Sara largely take place in the past, while the rest of the narration occurs in present day. The prologue and epilogue take place several years after the main action has occurred.

point of view · Each narrator speaks in first person, allowing the reader to see the world from each narrator’s point of view.

tone · Each narrator speaks in a different tone. Anna is observant, thoughtful, and inquisitive. Jesse is sarcastic and angry. Brian is often discursive, wandering into musings on astronomy. Sara is practical and concise. Campbell is sarcastic and sometimes regretful. Julia is open and watchful of the characters around her.

tense · Present

setting (time) · The setting alternates between present action and events from the past fourteen years.

setting (place) · Rhode Island

protagonist · Anna Fitzgerald

major conflict · Anna Fitzgerald files a lawsuit against her parents for medical emancipation so that she will no longer be forced to act as a donor for her older sister Kate, who has struggled with cancer almost her entire life.

rising action · Despite Kate’s failing health and Sara’s insistence that Anna change her mind, Anna’s lawsuit progresses and the trial begins. After much hesitation, Anna takes the stand to speak.

climax · Anna admits on the stand that Kate convinced her to file the lawsuit just as Campbell collapses from an epileptic seizure. Both of these events finally bring the truth out into the open; the reason Campbell has a service dog and broke up with Julia, and the reason Anna has decided not to donate a kidney to Kate.

falling action · Sara, initially disbelieving that her older daughter wants to die, apologizes to Kate. The court grants Anna the right to choose whether or not to donate her kidney, and Julia and Campbell reconcile.

themes · The Ambiguous Line Between Right and Wrong, The Bonds of Sisterhood, The Contrast Between Appearance and Reality

motifs · Campbell’s Explanations for his Dog, Judge; Brian’s Observations on Astronomy; Family Photographs

symbols · Fire, Stars and Dark Matter, Kate’s Central Line

foreshadowing · The bruise on Kate’s spine, Anna wonders what her funeral would be like, Brian and his fellow firefighters talk about the arsonist, Anna wonders what heaven will be like

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