Study Guide

My Sister's Keeper Love

By Jodi Picoult

Love

"Oh, Anna," my mother sighs, "how can you not know how much I love you?" (2.1.95)

Well, not showing it is one reason Anna doesn't know. Does a parent just love a child by default, and not have to show it every once in a while?

He smiles at me, and I suddenly am seventeen again—the year I realized love doesn't follow the rules, the year I understood that nothing is worth having so much as something unattainable. (3.5.93)

No, Julia doesn't turn in Zac Efron, but when Campbell smiles at her, she remembers her first love. It's like muscle memory, or riding a horse (no snickering please): That first love is something she'll never forget.

I wonder if Julia feels like it has been moments, not years, since we've been together. (3.6.172)

Yep, Campbell feels the same way Julia does, as though love is like riding a bike. When you get back on, it's like you never stopped.

"We all know you're supposed to love your kids equal, but that's not always how it works out." (4.1.48)

Forgiving Brian's grammar here (adverbs, people—use them), do you agree? Do you think parents play favorites? Does Brian love one of his kids more than the others? What about Sara? Do the kids realize it?

"The bottom line […] is that we never fall for the people we're supposed to." (4.2.84)

Love happens out of the blue, it seems. Although by the time we finish this book, it seems that Campbell is supposed to fall in love with Julia, so we guess it depends on who is doing the supposing.

"I had the heart of the relationship, and no body to grow it in."

"What happened then?"

"What else," I said. "It broke." (4.2.101-4.2.103)

This sounds like plot of a Picoult-meets-Frankenstein story. But what Julia seems to be saying is that she really loved Campbell, but he wasn't there to support her. She put her heart on the line, and he left it behind.

I wondered what happened when you offered yourself to someone, and they opened you, only to discover you were not the gift they expected and they had to smile and nod and say thank you all the same. (4.2.123)

Wow—this is disappointing. Julia is putting a lot of the blame for her relationship with Campbell on herself. We think this quote could totally apply to him, too.

True love is felonious. […] "You take someone's breath away. […] You rob them of the ability to utter a single word. […] "You steal a heart." (4.2.151, 4.2.153)

Hearts get broken, too, which is totally destruction of property.

"You did really great up there," I tell [mom], because I don't know how to say what I really want to: that the people you love can surprise you every day. (7.2.103)

This is a little role reversal, with Anna telling Sara that she did a great job. Love does surprise us in this case: It turns the daughter into the mother.

When you love someone, you'll do anything you can to keep them with you. (9.3.12)

This late in the game, this is kind of stating the obvious, but it's still true. Not just for the Fitzgeralds either; we'll soon see that Campbell and Julia will also do what it takes to keep the other with them.

"You don't love someone because they're perfect," [Julia] says. "You love them in spite of the fact that they're not." (9.7.18)

Ain't that some fortune cookie wisdom? Sure, it would have to be a big cookie, but this is one of those universal truths: Imperfections make someone loveable. Or maybe people just say this because they know they'll never find the perfect person.