My Sister’s Keeper: Movie and Book Comparison

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Although movies are entertaining and maintain the viewers’ interest, they are known for changing the original plot, lacking in character development and not demonstrating the theme of “understanding others” to the fullest. This movie in particular, has a completely different ending, lacks almost any sort of insight into the characters’ thoughts and lives and does not show enough compassion between the characters.

The book, entitled, My Sister’s Keeper by author Jodi Picoult, does a better job of developing these three aspects than the movie “My Sister’s Keeper” by director Nick Cassavetes does, based on the comprehension of the text and the observation of the film. The biggest change in the movie adaptation is the ending. In the novel, the protagonist is Anna, a young girl who wins her court case against her parents, receiving medical emancipation. Unfortunately, she is then involved in a car accident that ends up leaving her brain dead.

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Anna being unable to make decisions about her body, her lawyer, Campbell Alexander has the power to make medical decisions concerning her. He allows Anna’s organs to be donated, thus saving Kate’s (Anna’s sister) life; Kate was dying of leukemia and believes that Anna took her place in heaven. Whereas, in the motion picture, it is more focused on Kate and her memories, using a scrapbook she made for her mother. As well as, Anna is told she won her case and Kate died because of her leukemia. The ending of the story is key to the book’s message, “that sad things in life are going to happen and some things can’t be reversed”.

Changing this final event of the story caused the movie to not contain the deep emotional truth that author Jodi Picoult was trying to portray. Medically, the ending was a realistic scenario and thematically, it was the best way to conclude to all the characters what is truly important in life. But the movie version made the ending much more predictable and typical, leaving audiences not as touched. Besides having a very different and less special finish to the movie, the movie lacked a great deal of character development. First off, the main character of the book, Anna, was not even the center of attention in the ilm. She was under emphasized and her personality was slightly annoying; as oppose to in the book, where she was very likeable and had a strong persona.

Anna’s sibling Jesse was barely noticed in the movie. Whenever he was in a scene, he was usually in the background and we do not get to learn or understand his character. While in the book, we learn that he is a delinquent, how he is very angry and clever. In the novel, we also learn about his feelings concerning being ignored by his parents and his pyromania. These traits were not even hinted at in the movie.

Another ignored character is Campbell Alexander (Anna’s lawyer); since the movie focuses on Kate’s memories, Mr. Alexander is not mentioned often, not giving him much chance for character development. He has a service dog because he is epileptic and the dog can feel when he is going to have a seizure. In the novel, whenever someone asked him about his dog he made up silly excuses meant as jokes giving his character a sense of humor. But in the movie, only Anna asks him about his dog and one would be confused to why he even has a dog.

Only at the end of the film does he have a seizure and it is still not indicated he is epileptic, leaving viewers to think he simply had a seizure. Finally, the motion picture removes Anna’s guardian ad litem Julia, which eliminates an entire subplot between Campbell and herself, which also downplays the part of Campbell’s service dog. One major theme in the story is understanding or misunderstanding others. This means trying to take away pain from loved ones, also known as compassion. To begin, Sara and Brian (the parents) were lacking quite a bit of compassion.

Anna was created as a donor child, for the sake of being Kate’s perfect genetic match. Unfortunately, as Kate’s health got worse, the operations Anna had to go through did too. Anna and Kate’s parents only thought of Kate’s well being. They were completely ignorant to how all the surgeries affected Anna’s life. For example, Anna was supposed to donate a kidney, which would have left her having to be careful the rest of her life. (no sports, drinking, pregnancy, etc. ) Jesse, the other child, was even more unnoticed. The parent’s were completely unaware of all the problems in his life and about the fact that their son was dyslexic.

On the other hand, Campbell showed a great deal of compassion towards Anna when he agreed to take her case because; he was misunderstood by his parents in his childhood as well. The greater understanding of others was shown by Kate towards Anna. Turns out, it was Kate who had convinced Anna to do the entire scandal of suing her parents for the rights to her own body, to free Anna from all the pain, suffering and restrictions caused by her sickness. Kate knew at the next surgery, she wasn’t going to survive and that there was no point in continuing Anna’s ache.

Both the novel and the film portrayed the theme of understanding others, but the book demonstrated it with more complexity and sentiment, by elaborating on it with more detail and heart fullness. It was one of the essential messages of the story; it was put in to illustrate the moral of “sometimes if you truly love someone, you simply have to let them go. ” In conclusion, the book version of My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult has a much more emotional and deeper plot, much more detailed characters and portrays the theme of understanding others more clearly and magnificently.

The biggest twist of the novel was completely altered in the movie adaptation, removing a vital message from the story. Many important characters, with interesting subplots in the novel were removed from the movie version, leaving them to fade into the background. Plus, the theme of understanding others felt less genuine and warm in the motion picture creating less feeling for the spectators. People will always watch films for the action-filled scenes and drama, but if one wants to know the true story, really get to know the characters and feel a deeper understanding of the characters pain, one should definitely reach for the book.


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My Sister’s Keeper: Movie and Book Comparison. (2018, May 22). Retrieved from

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