I recently purchased a bunch of books by Jodi Picoult. I’ve read only a few of her books but I love them enough to call her one of my favorite authors. I decided to read Handle with Care first, and I’m wondering how I will be able to string together coherent sentences to review this amazing book.
When Willow is born with severe osteogenesis imperfecta, her parents are devastated–she will suffer hundreds of broken bones as she grows, a lifetime of pain. Every expectant parent will tell you that they don’t want a perfect baby, just a healthy one. Charlotte and Sean O’Keefe would have asked for a healthy baby, too, if they’d been given the choice. Instead, their lives are made up of sleepless nights, mounting bills, the pitying stares of “luckier” parents, and maybe worst of all, the what-ifs. What if their child had been born healthy? But it’s all worth it because Willow is, funny as it seems, perfect. She’s smart as a whip, on her way to being as pretty as her mother, kind, brave, and for a five-year-old an unexpectedly deep source of wisdom. Willow is Willow, in sickness and in health.
Everything changes, though, after a series of events forces Charlotte and her husband to confront the most serious what-ifs of all. What if Charlotte had known earlier of Willow’s illness? What if things could have been different? What if their beloved Willow had never been born? To do Willow justice, Charlotte must ask herself these questions and one more. What constitutes a valuable life?
I was shocked when I finished reading this book. I just sat there, staring off into space, reeling under the roller-coaster ride that was this book. And then I shook it off and rushed to my laptop to review it immediately. Books that have the capability to do this to you are the best kind.
Handle with Care is like most of Picoult’s other novels. There’s a child with a sickness, a lawsuit, and a moral question that will keep readers up at night. Willow has brittle bone disease, her family doesn’t have enough money to cover her medical expenses, and the answer to all their worries seems to be a wrongful birth suit. Her mother, Charlotte, goes forward with it, despite her husband being against it and the fact that the defendant is her best friend/OB-GYN.
The book is written in the typical Picoult multi-POV fashion. It’s amazing when multiple characters tell you the events that move the story forward. Every character is well developed and you understand the motivations behind everyone acting the way they do. Even Charlotte’s lawyer has her own story–she searches for her birth mother–and it’s really interesting to read.
What I really like about Jodi Picoult is that her books make you think. They’re not just stories that you read for passing your time, you actually end up learning something new–about yourself or life in general–from her books. I tend to see things in black and white. About halfway through the book, I didn’t really see why people would call Charlotte a “gold digger” for wanting to get a settlement from the lawsuit. Couldn’t they see that she just wanted Willow to have all the resources she needed, despite the fact that it was a wrongful birth/medical malpractice suit? This is where the multiple POV style of writing really helps. I understood the impact of this lawsuit on everyone involved and how a chain of events can tear a family apart.
“You can tell yourself that you would be willing to lose everything you have in order to get something you want. But it’s a catch-22: all of those things you’re willing to lose are what make you recognizable. Lose them, and you’ve lost yourself.”
Charlotte used to be a pastry chef before she had Willow and each part of this book begins with her recipes for pastries. These have a connection with the story that’s about to follow and prove that Picoult’s a genius. I knew what kind of ending the story was leading to, but it was unsettling to read, nevertheless. Despite the shocking ending, I would read the book a 1000 more times and have my heart broken all over again.
“Things that break – be they bones, hearts, or promises – can be put back together but will never really be whole.”
Rating: 5 out of 5, obviously.
Also, I’d like to take a moment to get this out of my system: JODI PICOULT IS A QUEEN AND WE SHOULD ALL READ HER BOOKS!
What did you think of this review? Have you read this book? How did you like it? Let me know in the comments!