The narrative of My Sister’s Keeper alternates between first-person accounts by the novel’s different characters. The bulk of the story takes place in the present, in a one-and-a-half week stretch of time. Sara Fitzgerald, a former attorney and current stay-at-home mom, narrates the remainder of the story from different points in the past but moving gradually toward the present. One final chapter, the epilogue, occurs in the future. In 1990, doctors diagnose Sara’s two-year-old daughter, Kate, with a rare and aggressive form of leukemia. The news that their child might die shocks Sara and her firefighter husband, Brian, but Sara immediately resolves to begin Kate on treatment. Kate starts chemotherapy, and her oncologist, Dr. Chance, suggests she might eventually need a bone marrow transplant, preferably from a related donor. The Fitzgeralds test their four-year-old son, Jesse, but he is not a match. Dr. Chance mentions that another unborn sibling could be a match, and Sara suggests to Brian that they have another child.
Sara’s passages, told at different points over the next fourteen years, focus largely on Kate’s struggles. She describes how scientists help them conceive another daughter, Anna, who is a perfect genetic match for Kate. Over the course of the next few years, Anna undergoes several procedures, including frequent blood withdrawals and a painful bone marrow extraction, to help keep Kate alive. Sara describes in great detail the pain and suffering Kate endures. Chemotherapy and radiation make her violently ill, and an emergency trip to the hospital heralds each new relapse. Sara and Brian’s marriage suffers as a result, to the point where they begin to feel like strangers. In different ways, both Jesse and Anna act out at Sara because of her single-minded focus on Kate.
The present action of the story begins on a Monday. Thirteen-year-old Anna goes to see a lawyer named Campbell Alexander and asks him to represent her. Anna tells Campbell...
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