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From Anna’s section to end of chapter
Anna recalls imagining what life would be like if Kate died. It would be
painful, but she also thinks of the exciting things she could do if Kate weren’t
alive. In the present, Anna sits with her parents in the hospital cafeteria. Vern
Stackhouse serves Sara with a temporary restraining order requiring her not to have
contact with Anna. Anna says she never asked for that but Sara is furious. Sara and
Brian fight in the car about hiring a “real” lawyer. Reporters have gathered at the
courthouse, and Anna and Brian wait outside while Sara and Campbell talk to the
judge. Julia arrives and asks if Anna wants Sara to leave the house. Anna says
that’s not what she wants. She also says she’s changed her mind and doesn’t want to
go through with the lawsuit anymore. After Julia leaves, Brian asks Anna if she
wants to stay with him at the fire station to give her distance from Sara. They
Outside the courthouse, Campbell speaks to the reporters. He recognizes that
he wants to draw attention to the case to capitalize on it. Sara and Campbell speak
to Judge DeSalvo. Julia arrives, tells the judge that Anna is confused, and it would
be a mistake to remove Sara from the house. Judge DeSalvo refuses to grant the
restraining order, but he orders Sara not to say one more word to Anna about the
case. Julia, Campbell, and Sara go outside to see Anna only to discover she has left
with Brian. Julia tries to talk to Campbell but he avoids her. Once again, his dog,
Judge, clearly tries to alert Campbell to something. Julia yells at Campbell while
he tries to get away from her. She informs Campbell that Anna said she changed her
mind about the petition. Finally, Campbell escapes into an empty room and locks the
Jesse arrives home to find Julia on his doorstep. He tries to flirt with her.
She asks for Anna, but Jesse says no one is home. Julia brushes off Jesse’s
continued flirtations and asks him about his family. He tells her a story about a
Christmas Eve when he was 12 and Kate was in the hospital. Anna had to be taken in
to give white blood cells, and Jesse was sent to a neighbor’s house. He left and
chopped down a tree from his family’s front yard, then set it up in the living room
and decorated it. The next day when he opened his gifts he realized they were all
from the hospital gift shop. Brian and Sara never even noticed the tree. Jesse says
that the story explains what it has been like to grow up in his family. He says at
least Anna is on their parents’ radar.
Brian takes Anna to the fire station. He recalls his visit to the hospital
earlier that afternoon. Kate slept, and Brian talked to Sara. He told her Anna was
going to stay with him at the station. They argued when Brian told Sara he was
worried about Anna. Sara said that, unlike him, she worries about both of their
daughters. Later that night, the fire station receives a call to a nursing home
where a woman has hit her head. Anna goes along and helps. They take the woman to
the hospital, and Brian loses track of Anna. He finds her in Kate’s room, curled up
on Sara’s lap. He takes her back to the station. Later, Anna and Brian watch a
meteor shower from the station’s roof. Anna wonders aloud if it would be possible to
find a fallen star.
Despite the bold decision she has made in bringing the lawsuit, Anna remains
immature (or rather, she has the level of maturity appropriate for a
thirteen-year-old girl). Though she finds herself in a difficult situation given
Kate’s cancer and the legal drama she started, Anna can’t help but think of her
school crush or dream of what she wants to be when she grows up. Her circumstances,
however, do temper that innocence. She recognizes that her dreams of what she could
be later in life depend on whether or not Kate is alive. If Kate dies, Anna has much
more freedom, but she will have lost her sister and best friend. Anna simultaneously
wants both scenarios and neither scenario to occur. When Brian takes Anna to the
firehouse roof, we see how innocent Anna remains as she asks a very childlike
question about whether they could find a fallen star.
As the story progresses, the cracks forming in Sara’s and Brian’s marriage
begin to show more clearly. They obviously love each other, but Anna’s lawsuit has
begun taking a toll on them. They argue, for instance, when Brian tells Sara that he
is going to take Anna to stay with him at the firehouse, and they do not agree on
how to handle the situation. Brian recognizes that Anna feels unhappy. He thinks
they should listen to her and give her room to come to her own conclusions about the
matter. Sara, on the other hand, still cannot see past Kate’s failing health and
does not want to indulge Anna, who Sara thinks is throwing some kind of tantrum with
the lawsuit. In their argument, Sara even makes a snide comment about Brian’s
handling of the matter when she says that, unlike him, she is worried about both
Campbell’s motion for a restraining order against Sara demonstrates that
Campbell’s main goal at this point remains winning the lawsuit, not necessarily
doing what is best for Anna. In his view, removing Sara from the Fitzgerald house
will keep Sara from having an influence on Anna. It also makes Sara look bad in
court. Both of these effects increase his chances of winning the case. He does not
think that Anna might not want her mother removed from her house (after all, Anna
still loves Sara, even if she disagrees with her) and he doesn’t consider the rift
it would undoubtedly create in the Fitzgerald family. Ironically, Campbell’s actions
resemble Sara’s treatment of Anna as a result. By being so focused on winning the
lawsuit, Campbell fails to make Anna’s wellbeing his top priority, just as Sara’s
focus on saving Kate often meant Anna’s wellbeing became a secondary concern. Both
Campbell and Sara sacrifice Anna to win what they see as the larger
Julia, on the other hand, recognizes that, as Anna’s guardian ad litem, her
only responsibility is to determine what is best for Anna. She has no obligation to
any other member of the Fitzgerald family and has nothing to gain from the lawsuit,
whether Anna wins or not. The members of the Fitzgerald family, aside from Sara,
appear to trust Julia for this reason. Consequently, Julia gets honest,
straightforward descriptions of the family’s history from Brian, Kate, and even
Jesse. Kate, for instance, tells Julia about a year when she was sick for every
holiday and the effect that had on Anna. Jesse, whose interactions with almost
everyone to this point have been short and flippant, describes very honestly his
memory of one Christmas where he ran away from the neighbor’s house, chopped down a
tree, and decorated it inside the Fitzgerald house. His parents, he says, did not
notice because they thought only about Kate. All his gifts that year came from the
hospital gift shop, indicating that his parents did not consider Christmas
beforehand and had put no thought into making the holiday special for their other