To conceive a child by IVF in order to meet specific genetic requirements is unethical unless its purpose is to save a life. There is a moral difference between selecting for socially desirable traits like blue eyes and blonde hair, and selecting for medically desirable ones. Anna was genetically engineered as a perfect donor match for her older sister Kate in order to save Kate’s life threating disease; leukemia. Anna decides to take legal action to be in control of her body.
Where is the line with choices? How is a decision determined to be right or wrong? These are some of the questions that summarize the concept of the book My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. Jodi Lynn Picoult was born on May 19, 1966, in Nesconset on Long Island in New York (Miller 1). Picoult’s family moved to New Hampshire when she was 13. Although she left New Hampshire for college and her early jobs, she settled there again as a married woman.
She currently lives in Hanover, New Hampshire with her husband, Tim Van Leer, and their three children, Sammy, Kyle and Jake (Miller 1). Picoult studied writing at Princeton University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. She also earned a master’s degree in education from Harvard University (Miller 1). Picoult studied creative writing with Mary Morris at Princeton, and had two short stories published in Seventeen magazine while still a student.
Realism – and a profound desire to be able to pay the rent – led Picoult to a series of different jobs following her graduation: as a technical writer for a Wall Street brokerage firm, as a copywriter at an ad agency, as an editor at a textbook publisher, and as an 8th grade English teacher – before entering Harvard to pursue a master’s in education (FT Magazine interview 1). Picoult’s novels usually deal with ethical issues and are told from a variety of viewpoints, with each chapter written in a different character’s voice. Picoult uses this technique to show multiple sides of a situation and underscore areas of moral ambiguity (Miller 1).
Jodi Picoult is the bestselling author of of twenty-one novels: 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), Lone Wolf (2012) and the Ya novel co-written with her daughter Samantha van Leer.
Her last seven novels have debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list – and her newest work is The Storyteller (FT Magazine Interview 1). In 2003 she was awarded the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction.
She has also been the recipient an Alex Award from the Young Adult Library Services Association, sponsored by the Margaret Alexander Edwards Trust and Booklist, one of ten books written for adults that have special appeal for young adults; the Book Browse Diamond Award for novel of the year; a lifetime achievement award for mainstream fiction from the Romance Writers of America; Cosmopolitan magazine’s ‘Fearless Fiction’ Award 2007; Waterstone’s Author of the Year in the UK, a Vermont Green Mountain Book Award, a Virginia Reader’s Choice Award, the Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award, and a Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award.
She wrote five issues of the Wonder Woman comic book series for DC Comics. Her books are translated into thirty four languages in thirty five countries. Four – The Pact, Plain Truth, The Tenth Circle, and Salem Falls – have been made into television movies. My Sister’s Keeper was a big-screen released from New Line Cinema, with Nick Cassavetes directing and Cameron Diaz starring, which is now available in DVD. She received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Dartmouth College in 2010 and another from the University of New Haven in 2012 (FT Magazine Interview 1).
This novel takes place in the 21st century, therefore it helps us relate to it. Anna, the protagonist, files a law suit against her parents, Brian and Sara, because they forced her to make medical decisions that were not her own. She takes matters into her own hands, approaches a lawyer and takes her parents to court to fight for the right to make decisions about the medical interventions, the right to her own body (Moss 1). Anna is sympathetic with her sister’s condition and has given all she can to ensure Kate’s recovery from leukemia.
Yet the discovery of the purpose of her being conceived through vitro fertilization was for the intention to possible spare Kate’s life. From the day she was born, this is her purpose in life (Bretagne). In My Sister’s Keeper Anna states, “See, unlike the rest of the free world, I didn’t get here by accident. And if your parents have you for a reason then that reason better exist. Because once it’s gone, so are you. ” By this Anna means the only reason she was born was to help Kate stay alive, and she says that if your reason for existing disappears, so will you. In other words, if something were to happen and
Kate were to die, Anna suggests her parents would no longer need or want her. “They don’t really pay attention to me, except when they need my blood or something. I wouldn’t even be alive, if it wasn’t for Kate being sick,” (Picoult 33). The child demonstrates throughout the book that, although perfectly healthy, she has this feeling of being invisible and taken for granted (Bretagne 1). Also whenever Kate will be hospitalized, Anna would most likely be made to tag along too. Anna has to go through several painful operations and transfusions to provide blood and bone marrow to keep her sister alive (Moss 1).
If Anna doesn’t give bone marrow, Kate get’s sicker. If Kate gets sicker, the parents would blame Anna for not giving those elements needed to her sister (Bretagne 1). Anna claims that her parents’ (Sara and Brian Fitzgerald) push for her to donate her kidney unwillingly is an infringement of her right to life. She also claims that she is being denied the right to make decisions as regards her own body. While Anna believes that such an action would be very wrong, her parents emphasize that it is the right decision if saving Kate’s life is the ultimate goal.
It is not easy to judge the parents who are just doing their best to save a dying daughter (Alcntara 1). Her older brother Jesse Fitzgerald is really affected with everything going on. He uses his destructive behavior to cover up his feelings inside. He cannot help Kate get better in anyway, and can’t forgive himself for that. In Sarah Fitzgerald eye’s it’s all about Kate. She puts her before any of her children. All she cares about is keeping Kate alive. She will not accept the fact that Kate can be gone at any moment. “Mum, no, it’s not. Kate’s dying and everybody knows it! You just love her so much that you don’t want to let her go!
” (Picoult 154). Unlike Brian Fitzgerald he understands the situation Kate is in and will accept whether she dies or lives. He states in the novel, “‘She is dying Sara. She will die, either tonight or tomorrow or maybe a year from now if we’re really lucky. You heard what Dr. Chance said. Arsenic’s not a cure. It just postpones what’s coming. ” But as differences arise in family, love is the only thing that emanates to respect differing opinions and keep them together. This book covers this life of this family during the trial period. It focuses on the tension that the family undergoes in a bid to keep one of them Kate, alive.
An analysis of the events in this novel reveals that indeed right and wrong is subjective. The story examines the emotions of main characters and how they react to the situation they are faced (Moss 1). Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that could tear her family apart, and a decision that can cause her blood sister to come to fatal death. Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood.
Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate – a life and role that she has never challenged until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is (Picoult 1). The issue that Anna had to face was when she realized she had been through enough. When you consider the amount of hospital visits and overnight stays which were inflicted upon a healthy young child for the sake of a sick sister, her dilemma was a moral one because she loved her sister sufficiently to care about her illness.
She loved her parents enough to have gone along with all the decisions they had made without consulting her over the years. What she had to face was her own inability to have any control over how her body was being used. In my opinion I agree with Anna. One should have the right to control what goes in and out of their body. You’re risking your own life trying to save another. It’s a hard decision but once you’ve had enough of trying to help out you can only take so much. Anna at such a young age has gone through so much, not a lot of adults would sustain this.
I strongly agree that Anna has every right to go against her parents’ will, and stop putting herself in life threatening danger. “…My own blood seeping into my sister’s veins; the nurses holding me down to stick me for white cells Kate might borrow; the doctor saying they didn’t get enough the first time around. The bruises and the deep bone ache after I gave up my marrow; the shots that sparked more stem cells in me, so that there’d be extra for my sister,” (Jodi Picoult 18). This quote makes me visualizes and feel the pain she is going through. It’s a sad thing to experience at only 13 years of age.