Friday, May 08, 2009

Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult

Handle with Care My Rating: 4.5 stars Published: 2009 Pages: 477 "Things break all the time. Glass, and dishes, and fingernails... You can break the ice. There are coffee breaks and lunch breaks and prison breaks. Day breaks, waves break, voices break... Promises break. Hearts break." This story broke my heart, it touched me, made me angry, made me cry & made me think. We follow the O'Keefe family, and gain rare insight into a family's daily struggle to cope with life with a child with a serious medical condition. The story is narrated alternatively by parents Charlotte & Sean, daughter Amelia & Charlotte's best friend & obstetrician Piper Reece & each chapter is addressed to Willow, a child born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta. This is a condition with devastating effects, hundreds of broken bones over a lifetime & an immeasurable physical, emotional & financial toll on a family. After a terrible series of events, Charlotte files a wrongful birth lawsuit against her obstetrician in the hope that a settlement will provide Willow with a better life. The decision tears a family apart, a marriage disintegrates, a friendship is destroyed and Amelia becomes yet another casualty; a child overlooked. I admired Charlotte for her resilience, her strength & determination, her willingness to risk all, in the fight to give one child a better life but these were also the reasons I hated her. I hated her preoccupation with protecting Willow at the expense of her eldest daughter, her inability to see Amelia spiralling out of control broke my heart. And most of all I hated the fact that the one Charlotte was trying to protect was the one left with a 'hurt' far beyond the pain of broken bones. I cried reading 6 year old Willow's words - "I'm not the kind of kid anyone wants." "Nobody keeps things that get broken. Sooner or later, they get thrown away." There were a few negatives in this story for me, issues that warrant a mention - On a whole this story resonated with truth & sincerity; having children with a bleeding disorder requiring frequent hospitalisation, some of the circumstances described in this story were from the pages of our own family book. In saying that, the events surrounding Willow's hospitalisation in Florida were ridiculously far-fetched. The subplot involving Charlotte's lawyer wasn't particularly believable. And lastly ... I loathed the ending; it seemed contrived & insincere. It defied belief. I kept turning the pages hoping to find the real ending. A small detraction in the overall emotional investment, but there nonetheless. An emotionally riveting and profoundly moving story. Picoult brings us another impressively researched novel, exploring relationships, the price a mother is willing to pay to protect her child & the fragility of life.


  1. Oh My Goodness Teddyree;

    What a lovely review. This sounds a truly emotional review. Sorry to hear you have a young one with health concerns. That must be extremely worrisome for all of you.

    I did want to let you know though that the contest is open to international folks at my blog today. So do enter if you have a moment.

    Warmest regards

  2. OMG! I can tell that this book resonated with you greatly by your review. Wonderful. I love Picoult and I would read anything by her but your review was worth reading in and of itself.
    BTW, the book reminds me of My Sister's Keeper. have you read it?

  3. I always think that Picoult's books are well-researched! And I love the subjects that she chooses. I feel that I'm learning *while* reading you know? (Which, I guess learning is one of the reasons why I read, but I always associate learning with non fiction, ya know?)

    Anways, I agree with the ending being a bit of a disappointment. I was frustrated because she seems to do that with her novels.

    Still, I'll continue to be a fan. :)

  4. Lea, thanks for your lovely comments & I'm heading over to your blog now :-)

    Lilly, I've read & collected all of Picoult's books, I'm a huge fan, even though you need a box of tissues with some of them LOL. My Sister's Keeper is still my all time favourite.

    Christina, I agree with you totally, learnt heaps while reading this one & I love anything that covers medical issues.

  5. Great review but I won't be moving it up the TBR list.

  6. Oh, you touched me w/ your heartfelt review. Thank you.

  7. This was a great review. I could tell that the book really touched you. I've been meaning to try one of Picoult's books, but I don't think it will be this one. I really dislike endings like you have described.

    Have you read "Icy Sparks?" It's about a child with Tourette's before anyone knew much about it. It was a good book, but it made me ache for real children brought up with that and no understanding or support.

  8. A lovely review :)
    I have seen her name around, and now in the library. maybe I should pick up a book

  9. I just picked this up at the booksstore last night-they had an awesome sale going on. I see you liked it but weren't really impressed with the ending. I'm anxious to get to it.

  10. I so adore Jodi and her books. I'm reading them in order that they came out (don't ask me why lol) and it'll be a while until I hit this one. I'm up to Plain Truth and I just have to get my hands on a copy. I'm glad you enjoyed this one though and it sounds emotionally charged and full of good & bads (which are are like all the ones I've read so far) from your review! I'm sorry to hear that this one touched so close to home *hugs*

  11. God, suing an obstetrician because your child is disabled {no matter how severally} isn't that like saying you're unhappy with your baby? Handle With Care seems reminiscent of My Sister's Keeper as well, {one child being pushed to the sidelines because of a siblings disabilty}. Thanks for your review, I may still read this but will enter with a bit more caution.

  12. Sharon ~ haven't read Icy Sparks but it sounds like one I'd be interested in.

    Dar ~ looking forward to hearing what you think.

    Mishel ~ I'll keep an eye out for your reviews on Jodi's books, she is one of my favourite authors

    Bookwormwhit ~ Handle with Care does have similarities to My Sister's Keeper but only in the way that cats & dogs are both animals

  13. this will be my first Jodi Picoult book...I got a copy of this from a giveaway at Book Club Girl.

    Thanks for the review.

  14. Thanks for the honest review. I've read several of Picoult's books and enjoyed them for the most part. I was planning on reading this one, but I've seen a lot of reviews from readers who hated the ending. Now I'm not so sure I want to invest my time in this book. I'll have to give it some thought.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  15. What a great review! I haven't read Handle with Care yet, but I'm a huge Picoult fan. Many of your comments echoed those of a close friend of mine who just read the book, too. I'm not sure I'm going to read this one, just because the basic premise - the mother suing the obstetrician - really rankles me.

    By the way, our family also deals with chronic health problems - in both of my sons and myself - which may be part of why the idea of blaming someone else rubs me the wrong way.

    Excellent review -


  16. hi..i love your review..i wonder if i've read your review on this sooner before i bought the book..maybe i'll think twice..but really glad i bought it anyway even i hate the ending.. =p


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