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In deep with ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ |

Sunday Lifestyle

In deep with ‘My Sister’s Keeper’

Francesca Teresa B. Militar - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - During my first year of high school, my English literature teacher recommended a certain book to my class. It was My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. She said that once we’ve read it, the story would create such an impact on us that it would change how we view things. At that time, I wasn’t really sure if I believed her but I decided to test it out myself. So that year, I decided to buy the book for myself.

The story was about a girl named Anna who is genetically designed to cure her sister Kate, who suffers from Leukemia. Things take a turn for the worse when Anna decides that she can’t take it anymore — all the blood transfusions, organ transplants, etc. — and files for medical emancipation from her parents. If Anna wins the case, she will no longer have to give anything to her sick sister, Kate, if she doesn’t want to. This creates all types of dilemmas for the characters in the book. Brian and Sara, Kate and Anna’s parents, struggle with the risk of losing Kate. Anna struggles over whether this is truly the right choice for her, and Jesse, Anna and Kate’s brother, learns to find his way through all of this. This leads to a series of courtroom trials that ultimately results in an unexpected turn of events: Anna loses her life at the end of the novel.

Through this book, Jodi Picoult was not only able to capture all the emotions experienced by the characters but also makes readers realize that life is not just black and white, but shades of gray at times. You can’t directly say the characters’ actions are either purely evil or purely good, as all their points of view seem justified — Anna wanting to live a normal life (free from surgeries, blood transfusions and the like), Sara wanting to prolong the life of her sick daughter, Kate wanting to stop her suffering, Jesse wanting to live his own life (free from the family drama) and Brian wanting his children to have their own lives. All these characters have their own motives for doing what they do and all seem to make sense. You can’t blame the characters for any of the things they do — this gives a more realistic feel and allowed me to relate to the book more. It’s no wonder I’ve cried so many times while reading this book. It brought out such raw emotion in me, so much so that I couldn’t even imagine being one of these characters. I couldn’t imagine being Anna, having to sacrifice her relation with her family — her mother, in particular — to satisfy her sister’s wants. Even if I’m not yet a mother, I cannot bear to think of the difficulty Sara was going through to have to pick between Anna’s happiness and Kate’s life.  All of these situations showed me the reality and hardships that many people face nowadays, especially with regards to sickness. It made me sympathize with those people, those families, who may be experiencing the same dilemmas as the characters in the story. In a way, this book allowed me to relate to those families. It allowed me to understand their pain and hardships, and it also opened my eyes to the importance of a good familial relationship.  This was truly how My Sister’s Keeper changed me — by showing me the impact of sickness on members of my community and allowing me to see the beauty within a family. Furthermore, it showed me the importance of sticking together through the rough times; and always hoping for the better — as it is this sense of hope that keeps Anna’s family going. It is this hope that helps us believe that life can still get better.

Moreover, it made me realize that life can never be planned. Most of the time, we absolutely don’t know where life will take us; and it always keeps us guessing how our future will be. My Sister’s Keeper solidified my understanding of this uncertainty and taught me that I shouldn’t be taking life and my loved ones for granted. In the book, Sarah, Brian, Jesse and Kate experience grief after the untimely death of Anna because they knew they took her for granted. This was just like what Kate said (in the last chapter of the novel): “Grief is a curious thing, when it happens unexpectedly. It is a Band-Aid being ripped away, taking the top layer off a family.” That one particular line also made me understand the true value of one person’s life, and how one person can change the lives of many. Anna was a great example of that. She wasn’t at all perfect, but that didn’t matter to her family. To them, Anna was precious and irreplaceable. Although she was only 13 years old, her death had such an impact on each of her family members. This is seen in the last chapter, where Kate says the following lines: “For a long time, afterward, my father claimed to see Anna in the night sky. Sometimes it was the wink of her eye, sometimes the shape of her profile. He insisted that stars were people who were well so loved that they were traced in constellations, to live forever. My mother believed for a long time that Anna would come back to her. She began to look for signs — plants that bloomed to early, eggs with double yolks, salt spilled in the shape of letters.”

Through those lines, you see how much pain her parents endured as they yearned for something to hold on to to keep Anna in their memory. However, it was Kate’s lines in the succeeding pages of the last chapter that really made me see how much Anna meant to her: “I think about her kidney working inside of me and her blood running through my veins. I take her with me, wherever I go.”

With those lines, I saw how greatly affected Kate was by Anna’s death: she believes that, through her, Anna still lives on.

It is for all these reasons that I loved My Sister’s Keeper and it is also how the book has ultimately changed my perspective on life.


Francesca Teresa B. Militar, 19, of Sucat, Paranaque is a sophomore at De La Salle University studying advertising management. She loves blogging, reading, writing, sewing, baking and arts and crafts.



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