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From Brian’s section through Sara’s section
Julia meets Brian at the fire station and helps him cook breakfast. They
discuss Anna, and Brian hesitates to state his opinion. He thinks about an incident
where he saved a child from a burning building. Brian admits he became a firefighter
to save people but wishes he could have been more specific about who to save. He
asks Julia if he can take her to meet someone but doesn’t say who the person
Julia rides with Brian in his car. In flashbacks, we see Julia at her
apartment sobbing the previous night after Campbell left, then going to a bar where
she drinks heavily. She remembers how Campbell felt attracted to her because she was
different from everyone else at their school. They would meet after school in the
cemetery and talk. One day Campbell told Julia he loved her, and they had
In Brian’s car, he tells Julia they named Anna after the galaxy, Andromeda.
They find Anna at the house and decide to all go to the hospital together. Anna
confesses to Julia that she fears Kate will hate her. Outside the hospital room,
Sara begs Julia not to tell Kate that Anna has not dropped the lawsuit. She also
insists to Julia that she loves both of her daughters. Julia and Kate talk alone.
Julia asks about Jesse, and Kate says that he gets into a lot of trouble because
it’s his only way of being noticed. Kate talks about a year where she got sick on
almost every single holiday and how hard that was for Anna.
In 1996, Sara throws Kate a party for her eighth birthday. Kate has been in
remission for five years, but soon after the party Kate relapses. She starts on a
new medication in an attempt to put her in remission. In the midst of this, Jesse
reminds Sara she promised to take him to get new cleats after his orthodontist
appointment. Sara tells him they can’t do either, so Jesse attempts to pry his
braces off his teeth with a fork. The new medication works at first, but Kate
develops a resistance. Dr. Chance recommends a donor lymphocyte infusion from Anna.
Brian suggests it might not be a good idea to make Anna donate blood, since he and
Sara only agreed she would act as a donor for Kate once. Concerned about Kate, Sara
dismisses the concern.
Anna arrives at the hospital to give blood and screams and cries during the
procedure. Later, when the doctors need to take more blood, Sara forces Anna to
leave a birthday party early. A month later, Anna has to donate blood a third time.
Sara also talks about finding Kate’s goldfish nearly dead. Desperate to save it, she
calls a marine biologist who helps her revive the fish.
Both Brian and Sara tell stories about going to great lengths to save someone
or something. Specifically, Brian talks about saving a child from a fire, and Sara
recounts her efforts to save Kate’s goldfish. In their stories, neither parent
expresses happiness over the outcome of their action. Though neither Brian nor Sara
says so explicitly, both apparently feel frustrated by the fact that they cannot
help Kate, the person they really want to save. Saving someone else, or even
something as small as a goldfish, regardless of the good it does, serves as a
reminder of their helplessness against Kate’s cancer. Brian, for instance, says he
became a firefighter to save people. But he says he should have been more specific
about whom he wanted to save.
Dark matter, which Brian discusses in the car with Julia, serves as a metaphor
for all the secrets the characters keep hidden from view, but which still have a
clear influence on the character’s actions. Brian tells Julia that the universe is
mostly made up of dark matter, which can’t be seen or felt. She asks how anyone
knows it’s there, and he answers that it has a visible effect on the objects around
it. By this point, we have indications that Anna, Jesse, and Campbell all hide
something from other people, though we only know Jesse’s secret about starting fires
thus far. Anna’s secret concerns her motivation for bringing the lawsuit against her
parents. It remains unclear whether she did it to get attention, because she
genuinely does not want to give up a kidney for Kate, or for some other reason
entirely. Campbell, similarly, does not want to reveal why he needs Judge, but his
secret appears to be what causes him to occasionally stop whatever he is doing and
leave the room.
More and more, we see examples of how Kate’s cancer also takes a toll on the
other children in the Fitzgerald family. Through Sara’s narration, for example, we
once again see instances of Jesse being ignored, and we see the early ways he starts
to lash out. When Sara won’t take him to the orthodontist and then to get new cleats
as she promised, Jesse pries loose his braces with a fork, hurting himself in the
process. Kate sums up the reason Jesse behaves badly: it is the only way he can get
noticed. As Kate’s cancer worsens, Jesse’s outbursts become increasingly more
violent and self-destructive. The burden weighs just as heavily on Anna. She has to
give blood in three separate instances, and these trips sometimes mean she must give
up things she wants or enjoys, such as going to a friend’s birthday party. Anna,
however, evidently has no choice in the matter. Through these examples and those in
earlier chapters, we see that the leukemia has deprived not just Kate, but also
Jesse and Anna, of a normal childhood.