My Sister’s Keeper
The year is 2010, and Kate narrates in the first person. She discusses grief and how, after Anna’s death, Brian believed he could see Anna in the night sky and Sara thought Anna would come back to her. Kate says she began to hate herself. She blamed herself for Anna’s death.
Kate stayed sick for a long time after the transplant, but suddenly got better. Dr. Chance had medical explanations, but Kate believed it was because someone had to go and Anna took her place. Kate talks about the immediate stages of grief in her family, how much her mother cried and how much her father kept away. But she said one day she laughed, and the very act of living started to ease the pain.
Kate wonders if Anna keeps tabs on them, if she knows they stayed close to Julia and Campbell and even went to their wedding, and whether Anna saw Jesse’s graduation from the police academy or witnessed Brian’s drinking problem and how he gradually got better. She also wonders if Anna knows that she teaches dance to little girls now.
One year after Anna’s death, Sara came home with a roll of developed film from Kate’s high school graduation. The last picture on the roll showed Anna. Sara and Kate stared at the picture until they memorized every detail. Kate fearsa day will come when it will be harder to remember Anna. But she knows she can lift her shirt and feel the scar from where she received Anna’s kidney. She says she takes Anna with her, wherever she goes.
Kate’s voice has appeared only twice in the book, during the prologue and now during the epilogue. Although the lives of the characters we see revolve largely around her, and her health problems more specifically, Kate remains in the background. Kate’s absence from much of the novel has a few different results. For one, it makes the story about the effects of cancer on the lives of the people around it, rather than about cancer itself. Perhaps more importantly, keeping Kate silent allows Anna to act as the focus of the story. Were Kate more present, and the physical devastation wrought on her by the cancer and the chemotherapy more prominent, Anna’s troubles might seem insignificant. Kate’s more dramatic problems would swallow Anna’s problems us, just as they did within the Fitzgerald family.
The epilogue allows us to see the aftermath of Anna’s death. For the most part, emotional devastation characterizes that aftermath. Sara cried almost incessantly and looked for signs that Anna would come back, indicating that she felt unable to let Anna go. Brian worked all the time, and then developed a drinking problem that he only recovered from gradually. He would also see signs of Anna in the stars. The family eventually stopped visiting Campbell and Julia, who married, because Campbell and Julia reminded them too much of Anna. Kate, as she tells the reader, hated herself. She felt responsible for Anna’s death because she prompted the lawsuit, and without the lawsuit Anna would not have been in the car with Campbell. But we also see the positive consequence of Anna’s death. Years after Anna’s death, Kate remains alive because of Anna’s kidney.