Thursday, July 26, 2012

My Sister's Keeper

Bibliographic Information: Picoult, J. My sister's keeper. New York: Atria Books.  ISBN: 978-0743454537

Plot Summary: Thirteen year old Anna loves her older sister, Kate, but has never known a life in which Kate's needs did not rule her every move and breathing moment. Kate has had leukemia since a young age and relies on Anna, a child born as an exact bone marrow match, to supplement her health with healthy bone marrow, blood transfusions, and a variety of other operations and tests. Anna has never had a problem, until she reaches the age of thirteen and decides to sue her family for her medical emancipation. 

Anna's decisions throws her family into a panicked disorder pitting mom against daughter. It is not until the truth comes out about why Anna is demanding her medical emancipation that her family begins to understand why she refuses to back down. In the midst of the court chaos, an unimaginable twist of fate teaches Anna's family that sometimes the things that blindside us the most are the things we never see coming.  

Critical Evaluation: *SPOILER ALERT*

Picoult employs the use of irony in this book in a way the leaves readers enraged. The entire story seems to revolve around the uncertain future of the older sister, Kate, making it appear that her life is only moments from possibly ending. Picoult builds the story, adds drama, and emotion as a family struggles to deal with the possible loss of Kate who they have worked so hard to keep alive. The loss is only further magnified by the resistance Anna shows in continuing to participate in keeping Kate alive. It all seems like it's going to end with Kate's eventual death; an ending the makes sense given the hard struggle that has been keeping Kate alive. The court's ruling in favor of Anna's health emancipation seems only to seal Kate's fate. The reader is only given what feels like seconds to adjust to the cold hard truth that Kate's life is over when Anna has her tragic accident, changing Kate's life forever. Picoult employs this ironic twist of fate without apology, forcing the reader to deal with the fact that life is often so uncertain that endings come nearly out of nowhere. This ironic twist also forces the reader to reexamine the ever changing course of life.

Reader’s Annotation:
A sister's love is one of the most powerful things in the world. Anna is forced to decide whether or not she is willing to give up her life for her sister's.
Information About the Author: Picoult was born in 1966 in New York on Long Island (Picoult FAQ, 2012). She's always dreamed of being a writer and being able to provide for her family (Picoult FAQ, 2012). She studied creative writing at Princeton University (Picoult FAQ, 2012). Alice Hoffman is one of her idols and finds the following three works to be her favorite: Gone With the Wind, The Great Gatsby, and The Sun Also Rises (Picoult FAQ, 2012).

Picoult has also written (information pulled directly from Songs of the Humpback Whale (1992), Harvesting the Heart (1994), Picture Perfect (1995), Mercy (1996), The Pact (1998), Keeping Faith (1999), Plain Truth (2000), Salem Falls (2001), Perfect Match (2002), Second Glance (2003), My Sister's Keeper(2004), Vanishing Acts (2005), The Tenth Circle (2006) Nineteen Minutes (2007), Change of Heart (2008), Handle With Care (2009), House Rules (2010), and SING YOU HOME (2011), and LONE WOLF  (Picoult Books, 2012).

My Sister's Keeper Website


Death and Deadly Disease, Personal Convictions
Curriculum Ties: Can tie into a lesson on cancer and how it affects families and communities.

Booktalking Ideas:

1). Is Anna and Kate's mom, Sara, the villain in this story?
2). Is Anna correct to ask for her medical emancipation?
3). Was it morally correct to subject Anna to so many medical tests for Kate?

Reading Level/Interest Age: Adult to YA crossover (, 2012)

Challenge Issues: This book deals with death and illness and may be considered to serious for teens. I will defend it with the following items:

1) Refer to Library Bill of Rights, see items: I, II, and III (
2) Refer to San Diego Public Library collection policy - (  Original site: The American Library Association (ALA) Freedom to Read/View Statement (
3) Refer to California School Library Association (CSLA), Model School Library Standards - September 2010 ( PDF: (
4) Refer t0 American Association for School, Librarians Standards for the 21st Century Learner (
5) Contact Office of Intellectual Freedom for any further support, 800-545-2433, ext. 4223 or
6) Refer to legitimate book reviews, such as: School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Horn Book and others; found on either Academic Search Premier, Follett's TITLEWAVE, or

Why did you include this book in the titles you selected?:
This book deals with very important subjects like cancer and death. These issues are very important and prominent in many teens lives who are dealing with the illness, or even death, of loved ones. This book details the all too possible way in which families are forced to deal with sicknesses like cancer.

Reference Page:  (2012).  My sister's keeper: Adult to YA.  Retrieved July 26, 2012 from

Follett's Titlewave.  (2012).  My sister's keeper.  Retrieved July 26, 2012 from Follett's Titlewave iPhone app. 

Picoult, J.  (2012).  Books.  Retrieved July 26, 2012 from

Picoult, J.  (2012).  FAQs: Jodi answers 10 terrifying questions. Retrieved July 26, 2012 from

cover art:

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