Study Guide

My Sister's Keeper Family

By Jodi Picoult

Family

If your parents have you for a reason, then that reason better exist. Because once it's gone, so are you. (1.1.4)

Is Anna being a little overdramatic here? Would her parents stop loving her if Kate were healthy? Or if Kate had died? Actually, the more we get to know the parents, the more we wonder about this ourselves.

I am used to struggling with Jesse, to lightening Kate's load; but Anna is our family's constant. (1.4.31)

That's a nice role to have, but is it fair for a family to put that kind of pressure on any one member, especially one who is only thirteen years old?

I used to pretend that I was just passing through this family on my way to my real one. (2.1.1)

Maybe all kids have this feeling that they're adopted when they don't fit into their family. Anna, though, for better or for worse, knows that this is her family—she was created specifically for them.

"If you don't want to be my sister anymore, that's one thing. But I don't think I could stand to lose you as a friend." (2.1.81)

Kate seems to suggest that friendship is more important than family. This might be true, and many times throughout the book, this family feels like a family in name only. If they didn't have the same last name, we'd think they were all enemies.

We are all, I supposed, beholden to our parents—the question is, how much? (3.1.1)

You'd think this is Anna talking, but it's actually Campbell. It's probably a question everyone has at some point: Do you have to do everything your parents want just because they're your parents? Or does there always come a time when you have to separate from them? (Whether or not this involves a lawsuit is up to you.)

Daughter trumps everything, no matter what the game. (3.2.46)

Well, Anna gets proven wrong here in the end. Her mother ends up not having the final say; the court does.

"No offense, but you don't exactly look like a parent." […]

"What do parents look like?" (3.6.108-3.6.109)

Good question. We think the answer in this case, at least with Campbell, is that parents are supposed to look responsible—and this guy barely looks like he's capable of carrying groceries (based on the fact that his fridge only has ketchup in it).

One Thanksgiving when Kate was not in the hospital, we actually pretended to be a regular family. (3.7.71)

Is there such a thing as a regular family? We think most families have to deal with things like illness, badly behaving teenagers, and other mistakes and maladies. So maybe by ignoring all these problems, they're pretending to be an abnormal family.

If you have a sister and she dies, do you stop saying you have one? Or are you always a sister, even when the other half of the equation is gone? (3.7.85)

Can you answer this one, math majors? Are you the variable formerly known as sister, or do you change to a different type of integer altogether?

"Parents need to be parents. […] But sometimes that isn't good enough." (9.2.46)

And that quote pretty much sums up the whole book. As Hillary Clinton said, it takes a village.

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