New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult is widely acclaimed for her keen insights into the hearts and minds of real people. Now she tells the emotionally riveting story of a family torn apart by conflicting needs and a passionate love that triumphs over human weakness. Anna is not... read more
All her life, Anna has been used as a donor for her older sister, Kate. Kate was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia when she was 2, and the only hope of survival was to have a donor. Since no one in the family was a match, and waiting for a donor could take too long, Brian and Sara decided... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
All her life, Anna has been used as a donor for her older sister, Kate. Kate was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia when she was 2, and the only hope of survival was to have a donor. Since no one in the family was a match, and waiting for a donor could take too long, Brian and Sara decided to have another child, and make sure the child was a donor. Thus, Anna was born. What started out as one simple procedure turned into a long, complicated history of Anna undergoing operations and hospitalizations, just to save her sister. When Anna's parents want her to donate a kidney to her sister, Anna finally puts her foot down. Hiring a lawyer, Anna demands medical emancipation from her parents, but things aren't as easy as a simple lawsuit. Anna finds herself slowly becoming estranged form her mother, as Sara thinks Anna is being selfish and crying out for attention. But Brian starts to realize that perhaps Anna is right, and takes her side on this, which only tears the family apart more. Brian and Sara have always been so focused on Kate, and Anna through Kate, that they don't realize their son, Jesse is being neglected. He becomes a delinquent, causing trouble everywhere, which only adds to the pain of the family.
Through it all, Campbell, Anna's lawyer, struggles with his own problems. His old girlfriend, Julia, is working on the case as a guardian ad litem-- someone to counsel Anna, and help the judge make a decision about what's right. Julia and Campbell dated in the past, and things ended abruptly when Campbell left Julia. Although Campbell stills has feelings for her, and she for him, things are tense, and they struggle to work together.
Anna keeps on wavering back and forth about her decision to sue her parents for medical emancipation or not, and Campbell grows frustrated. Eventually, the case comes to court, and Campbell tells Anna that she has to testify. Anna is terrified of doing so, but eventually, reluctantly agrees to do so. When she gets on the stand, she's asked why she decided to stop being a donor for Kate. The truth finally comes out, and Anna reveals that Kate asked her to stop being a donor, and not undergo the kidney transplant. Kate had even tried to kill herself, because she was so tired of living on borrowed time. Anna realized that Kate was willing to die, if it meant giving Anna a chance to finally live. Anna talks about when she told Kate she wouldn't be her donor anymore. Anna thinks about how "She turned to me with all the world in her eyes, and a smile that crumbled like a fault line." She then tells the judge that Kate thanked her for stopping.
Sara has a hard time believing this, and when it's her turn to testify, Sara explains her decisions for favoring Kate over Anna. She says how if a child was a trapped in a burning building, the parent was practically expected to go in and save them. But in Sara's case, Kate was trapped in the burning building, and Anna was the only one who knew the way in. She knew that she risked losing both of them, but she didn't dare do nothing. She had to at least try.
After deliberating, the judge rules in Anna's favor, and declares her medically emancipated form her parents, with Campbell responsible until she turns 18. On the way back from the courthouse, Anna gets into a terrible car accident. Brian arrives on the scene as a paramedic, not knowing it's his daughter in the car. He's distraught, and Anna is rushed to the hospital. At the hospital, the doctor informs Brian and Sara that while a machine is keeping Anna breathing and her heart beating, she is brain dead. While there is nothing that can be done to save Anna, a kidney transplant could still save Kate's life. Anna's kidney is given to Kate, and Sara and Brian turn off the machine that keeps Anna breathing.
An epilogue takes place many years later. Kate describes how things have changed. The kidney transplant saved her life, something which doctor's couldn't quite explain. But Kate thinks it's because someone had to go, and Anna took her place. Kate says that Jesse cleaned up his act, and recently got a commendation from the mayor for his help in a drug bust. Campbell and Julia got married, but didn't stay in touch, because even when they didn't talk about Anna, she was always there. Brian fell deep into a funk, and had to claw his way out. Kate says how he spent more and more time at the fire station, because he didn't want to come back to a house that felt too big. Sara started looking for signs that Anna would come back to her-- salt spilled in the shape of letters, or anything else unusual. Kate says she blamed herself, since it was all because of her that Anna was at the courthouse that day. Kate thinks that if she had died like she felt she was supposed to, Anna never would have.
Kate talks about how now she teaches ballet for little girls, and every time she sees two little girls sinking into plies at the barre, she think of herself and Anna. Kate mentions that one day, after developing photos from her high school graduation, they found an old pictures of Anna. Kate says she and Sara stared at it for hours, trying to memorize the way she looked. Kate kept the picture, but instead of framing it, she tucked it away in a drawer. Whenever she can't quite recall the number of freckles on Anna's shoulder, or her smile, she pulls out the picture. Kate says how she thinks about Anna's kidney working in her body, Anna's blood flowing through her veins. Kate thinks about how she takes Anna with her, wherever she goes.
“You take someone's breath away. You rob them of the ability to utter a single word. You steal a heart.”Julia
“She turned to me with all the world in her eyes and a smile that crumbled like a fault line. 'She said thanks.'”Anna Fitzgerald
“That tiny loss of rhythm, that hollow calm, that utter loss.”Sara Fitzgerald
“You don't have to be awake to cry.”Sara Fitzgerald
“... And every time I see two girls sinking into pliés at the barre, I think of us.”Kate Fitzgerald
“Kids think with their brains cracked wide open; becoming an adult, I've decided, is only a slow sewing shut.”Anna Fitzgerald
“There was time when, like Kate, I'd wanted to be a ballerina. But since then I've gone through a thousand different stages: I wanted to be an astronaut. I wanted to be a paleontologist. I wanted to be a backup singer for Aretha Franklin, a member of the cabinet, a Yellowstone National Park ranger. Now, based on the day, I want to be a micro-surgeon, a poet, a ghost hunter. Only one thing's constant. "Ten years from now," I say, "I'd like to be Kate's sister."”Anna Fitzgerald
“So Campbell walks up to the witness stand and leans so close that only I can hear him. "When I was a kid, I had a friend named Joseph Balz," he whispers. "Imagine if Dr. Neaux had married him."”Campbell
“Darkness, you know, is relative.”Jesse Fitzgerald
“Here are stars in the night sky that look brighter than the others, and when you look at them through a telescope, you realize you are looking at twins. The two stars rotate around each other, sometimes taking nearly a hundred years to do it. They created so much gravitational pull there's no room around for anything else. You might see a blue star, for example, and relize only later that it has a white dwarf as a companion -that the first one shines so bright, by the time you notice the second one, it's really too late.”Brian Fitzgerald
“You don't love someone because they're perfect. You love them in spite of the fact that they're not.”Julia Romano
“Afterward, he places the chest X-ray on the light panel outside the door. Kate's ribs seem as thin as matchsticks, and there is a large gray blot just off center. "It's a tumor. The cancer's metastasized. The doctor puts his hand on my shoulder. "Mrs. Fitzgerald," he says, "that's Kate's heart."”Sara Fitzgerald.
“Not too long ago, when Kate was in the hospital to get her kidneys checked out, a new nurse handed her a cup and asked for a urine sample. "It better be ready when I come back for it," she said. Kate-- who isn't a fan of snotty demands --decided the nurse needed to be taken down a peg. She send me out on a mission to the vending machines, to get the very juice that the judge is drinking now. (Apple Juice) She poured this into the specimen cup, and when the nurse came back, held it up to the light. "Huh," Kate said. "Looks a little cloudy. Better filter it through again." And then she lifted it to her lips and drank it down. The nurse turned pale and left the room. Kate and I were laughing so hard that our sides hurt.”Anna
“Why? I'm dying. You're dying." When I frowned, she said. "Well, you are." Then she grinned. "I just happen to be more gifted at it then you are.”Kate Fitzgerald
“Do you happen to know where she is?" saked Julia. "Am I my sister's keeper?”Jesse Fitzgerald
“Fire and hope are connected, just so you know.”The perspective of Brain Fitzgerald
“There is a pregnant bubble of silence on the other end of the phone.”The perspective of Sara Fitzgerald
“Extraordinary things are always hiding in places people never think to look.”
“I realize then that we never have children, we receive them.”Sara Fitzgerald
“Firefighting is a world of Murphy's Law; it is when you can least afford a crisis that one crops up.”Brian
“There are always sides. There is always a winner, and a loser. For every person who gets, there's someone who must give.”Sara
“"I imagined the raindrops melting away my skin. I waited for the one stroke of lightning that would arrow through my heart, and make me feel one hundred percent alive for the first time in my whole sorry existence."”Jesse
“"Well, sometimes to get what you want the most, you have to do what you want the least."”
“A real friend isn’t capable of feeling sorry for you.”
“My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends -- It gives a lovely light!”Edna St. Vincent Millay, "First Fig," A Few Figs from Thistles
“No one starts a war--or rather, no one in his sense ought to do so--without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to conduct it" Carl Von Clausewitz”
“You know how every now and then, you have a moment where your whole life stretches out ahead of you like a forked road, and even as you choose one gritty path you've got your eyes on the other the whole time, certain that you're making a mistake.”
“A fire can't burn forever. Eventually, it consumes itself.”
“It is so easy to think that the world revolves around you, but all you have to do is stare up at the sky to realize it isn't that way at all.”
“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.”
“Why are terms of endearment always food? Honey, cookie, sugar, pumpkin. It's not like caring about someone is enough to actually sustain you.”
“There are some things we do because we convince ourselves it would be better for everyone involved. We tell ourselves that it's the right thing to do, the altruistic thing to do. It's far easier than telling ourselves the truth.”
“No matter what you believe, it took some doing to get from a point where there was nothing, to a point where all the right neurons fire and pop so that we can make decisions. More amazing is how even though that's become second nature, we all still manage to screw it up.”
“There's a difference in our system of justice between what's legal and what's moral. Sometimes it's easy to tell them apart. But every now and then, especially when they rub up against each other, right sometimes looks wrong, and wrong sometimes looks right.”
“Change isn't always for the worst; the shell that forms around a piece of sand looks to some people like an irritation, and to others, like a pearl.”
“There are just as many stories to be told in the dark spot as there are in the bright ones.”
“Rain falls, and runs down a mountain into a river. The river finds it way to the ocean. It evaporates, like a soul, into the clouds. And then, like everything else, it starts all over again.”
“Morals are more important than ethics, and live is more important than law.”
“Once, I asked my mom why stars shine. She said they were night-lights, so the angels could find their way around in Heaven. But when I asked my dad, he started talking about gas, and somehow I put it all together and figured that the food God served caused multiple trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night.”Anna Fitzgerald
“And the very act of living is a tide: at first it seems to make no difference at all, and then one day you look down and see how much pain has eroded.”Kate
“IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE there are orphans and widows, but there is no word for the parent who loses a child.”Sara
“Maybe if God gives you a handicap, he makes sure you've got a few extra doses of humor to take the edge off.”Anna
“Life isn't nearly as stable as we want it to be”Brian
You don’t love someone because they’re perfect,” she says. “You love them in spite of the fact that they’re not.”Highlighted by 207 Kindle customers
That maybe who we are isn’t so much about what we do, but rather what we’re capable of when we least expect it.Highlighted by 135 Kindle customers
I realize then that we never have children, we receive them. And sometimes it’s not for quite as long as we would have expected or hoped. But it is still far better than never having had those children at all.Highlighted by 115 Kindle customers
The human capacity for burden is like bamboo — far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance.Highlighted by 106 Kindle customers
A photo says, You were happy, and I wanted to catch that. A photo says, You were so important to me that I put down everything else to come watch.Highlighted by 105 Kindle customers
Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it’s not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.Highlighted by 90 Kindle customers
A jewel’s just a rock put under enormous heat and pressure. Extraordinary things are always hiding in places people never think to look.Highlighted by 84 Kindle customers
Doubt thou that the stars are fire; Doubt thou that the sun doth move; Doubt truth to be a liar; But never doubt that I love. — WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, HamletHighlighted by 80 Kindle customers
Life sometimes gets so bogged down in the details, you forget you are living it. There is always another appointment to be met, another bill to pay, another symptom presenting, another uneventful day to be notched onto the wooden wall. We have synchronized our watches, studied our calendars, existed in minutes, and completely forgotten to step back and see what we’ve accomplished.Highlighted by 72 Kindle customers
Goldfish get big enough only for the bowl you put them in. Bonsai trees twist in miniature. I would have given anything to keep her little. They outgrow us so much faster than we outgrow them.Highlighted by 53 Kindle customers
There are no actual numbered chapters in the novel. Each chapter is told from a different characters point of view. Chapters are told from the vantage point of,
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