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The movie adaptation of Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper had some glaring differences from the book. Many of these differences were so significant that the entire message or meaning of the story is destroyed.
The most devastating difference between the book and the movie occurs at the very end, when Kate died instead of Anna. This is the most significant difference between the movie and the book, and it essentially changed the whole story. The movie producers changed the most important part of the story; they changed the one piece of the story that most people would have the sense to not change.
It was the biggest change they could have made by altering only one detail. By making Kate, the sick sister, pass away, they make the story infinitely more predictable.
This change also affects one of the main themes of the story. It is known from the beginning that this story is extremely difficult; there are no right answers to the issues, and that is acknowledged several times throughout the book.
Overall, it is a messy story, and Anna’s unexpected death makes that point clear to the readers, as well as the other characters. By having Kate die in the movie, the element of difficulty in the story is diminished and weakened.
Another major difference between the book and the movie is the character of Campbell Alexander. In the book, Campbell is a sarcastic, lonely, and for lack of a better term emotionally stupid person, who shows extreme character development and develops into a more open and emotionally secure person, although only slightly less sarcastic.
This amount of character development is appropriate, as he has a major role in the book and deserves to be
treated as a dynamic character. However, in the movie, there isn’t a single shred of similarity between him and his character in the book, besides the fact that they are both epileptic. Movie Campbell shows zero character development, and is portrayed as a far less major character than in Book Campbell.
Another concerning difference in regards to Campbell is the lack of Julia in the movie. Julia was a significant contribution to Campbell’s character development; she made him realize that his epilepsy doesn’t define him, and it won’t prevent people from caring about him. However, she wasn’t even present in the movie. Although, I suppose it doesn’t really matter that she wasn’t there to contribute to Campbell’s character development in the movie, because he didn’t have any character development in the movie.
One other major discrepancy between the book and the movie is Jesse’s delinquency. Although the movie and the book both address the fact that Jesse has issues, the movie doesn’t show Jesse as the delinquent he is in the book. In the book, Jesse burns down buildings and does drugs as a way to get attention from his parents. In the movie, however, Jesse finds solace through far less destructive outlets, like art. As a result, at the end of the movie he goes to art school, while in the book he becomes a police officer.
The main problem with this difference is that there is a lot of symbolism in the book that is not realized in the movie because of this change. Jesse and his father are connected through their relationship to fire; Jesse set buildings ablaze, and Brian put the fires out. Jesse’s fixation on fire is important because it is a blatant cry for attention from his father. Fire is also important to them because it is the one controllable element in both of their lives. Between Kate’s illness,
Sara’s controlling personality, and Anna’s lawsuit, neither of them ever feel in control; they like fire because it is something they can control.
Besides these three major differences between the book and movie, there were many other minor differences, such as the fact that Anna played hockey in the book, rather than soccer, like in the movie. However, the many minor differences didn’t impact the actual story as much as the three major discrepancies previously highlighted. Between Kate’s death, Campbell’s lack of character development, and Jesse’s completely changed character, the story told in the book might as well have been a different story from the one told in the movie.
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