* Prices may differ from that shown
This is a review of the 2009 book "Handle with Care" by Jodi Picoult. I have read lots of book by Picoult and usually enjoy reading them as she does research her subject well before writing about it.
A bit about
In Handle With Care, the book is narrated by most of the main characters, chapter by chapter. Charlotte is mum to Amelia and Willow and married to Sean. Her best friend is Piper, who is also an Obstetrician and was there when Willow was born. Piper's daughter Emma is best friends with Amelia too. Willow was born with a condition called Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) type III which means that her bones break very easily and she leads a very difficult life. When she is six, Charlotte decides to begin a law suit against Piper for not giving her choices early in her pregnancy.
I found it hard to like Charlotte in this book as she is hell bent on doing the right thing for Willow, she can't see what her determination is doing to Sean and Amelia. Piper seems genuine and caring and I feel so sorry for her as the law suit effectively wrecks her career. Amelia is a troubled teen and just crying for attention from her parents but they are too busy with Willow to notice her. Marin is Charlotte's lawyer and she has her own story of adoption which is unfolding as the book progresses. Sean is a hard one to follow, in that he declares his love for Charlotte frequently but he has trouble seeing past her determination with this court case. He does have a wandering eye one night getting drunk in a bar which seems to contradict his dedication to his wife but that is glossed over.
I liked how the chapters were narrated by the different characters, providing different points of view but all mainly focused on Willow and her life story. It was helpful that the chapters didn't jump around a timeline so the story unfolded as if in real time with added memories of the past.
I enjoyed reading this book and you were kept hanging on until the last chapter to see if Charlotte will win her case. Willow's breaks at birth and during her life are heart breaking and you can only feel for the people in real life who suffer from, or care for those with the OI condition. Charlotte tries to absorb Willow's pain and her dedication to her is unquestionable, she has given up everything for that child including a successful career as a pastry chef. She gets a lot of support from her best friend Piper so when she loses her as a friend by suing her she is left feeling really alone.
This book was an unmistakable work from Picoult that resonated strongly with the book and film "My Sister's Keeper". You really can see this story from all points of view, Charlotte as the mother, Sean as the father, Piper as the health professional, Amelia as her sister and even from the six year old Willow's viewpoint. This is the sign of a great writer and the book really is written well. Having said that, it wasn't my favourite of Picoult's books but I still have plenty more of her novels to read on the groaning bookshelf.
This is a beasutifully written story of pure love shown for a child with a life limited condition. Willow a little girl born with an incurable brittle bone disease has a book written for her about her life. It is a beautifully written book from a mothers view, a father view and her sisters view on the real issues families are faced with when going through an incredibly tough time and money is horrendously tight. you really feel the emotion and stresses of the family and the difficult ethical issues they are left with. The stresses the sister goes through who loves her sister but needs the attention of her mother and father.
This book is so clever and the last chapter is so unexpected and so so sad I truely did not expect it. Jodi has yet again written about a subject she is expert in and made it work. She clearly has an understanding of the medical world and is able to write about this in an accurate and intresting way. Jodi has yet again tackled hard ethical issues parents are having to make in difficult and unusual circumstance yet she is tackling it in different ways to other novels. She is writing a story with lots of different views and not losing sight of the plot.
I believe Jodi is truely gifted, her books are incredibly clever and certainly not boring.
===Only my second book review - go easy on me ===
I have to admit if I went into a book store, this wouldn't be my first choice - I usually opt for the more romantic novels. When I was stressing about course work a couple of weeks a go, I raided my mothers bookshelf and picked this out. We have different but similar styles of reading that we enjoy - she liked it so why wouldn't I?
=== Overview ==
Despite having a daughter already, Charlotte O'Keefe was desperate to have a baby with husband Sean. Getting closer to her 40's she thought she had no hope, but it finally happened. Everything seemed so perfect until the pregnancy was nearing its end. Charlotte found out her precious baby had OI, a condition which causes bones to break and double even at the scrape of a knee. For the rest of this babys life, she will suffer endless broken bones and there is nothing that can be done to prevent it.
Charlotte and Sean ask for the help of Charlottes best friend Piper when it comes to the pregnancy, delivery and care of Willow. Piper is almost the third parent. So how will they cope when a lawyer tells the couple that they could file a claim against Piper? She is, after all partly responsible for the fact they didn't know about OI sooner - but would Charlotte and Sean be able to admit to wishing Willow was never born?!
Will Charlotte go through with it, or does her best friend mean too much?
=== My Verdict ===
Being one of the first books of its kind that I have read, I did thoroughly enjoy it. Its rare that I pick up a book and read it non-stop cover to cover like I did with this one. I originally thought I would find it hard to get my teeth into, but I managed 40 pages in one bath (despite becoming prune and lobster like in the process).
I did get slightly confused as each chapter is written from a different perspective. For example from Charlottes point of view, then a bit of the same situation and expanding that in Sean's eyes, then Amelia has her say also. It is really interesting to see all of their perspectives on the situation as usually it is from the third person so you don't feel connected with the characters. Once I got about 3 chapters in, the writing style didn't phase me and the book began to flow more smoothly - whereas after the first chapter I was so confused I almost gave up!
I really like the way Jodi Picoult writes, I find that she allows you to connect more with the characters and really feel their emotion. Although I am quite an emotional person so it may not be the same for you. I really felt Charlottes pain in parts and wished I could help her out - but this obviously was not possible. The book is almost like it is a letter to Willow, in preparation to read when she was old enough to understand - although with a 4 year old as bright as she is, it won't be long until she knows exactly what is happening.
Jodi has kept the book all revolving around the main point of the story - Willow's disability and the court case. This really helped I feel as she didn't allow the story to trail off into confusion. Although one part of the book I didn't really read was the recipes slotted in the front of each chapter. I didn't find them relevant to the story so flicked through those pages to get to the next part of the book.
Picoult has an amazing writing style and I am very surprised she has not been picked up for awards and fame. The characters are extremely well thought out and she does not include people irrelevant to the story - which means you get to know the main ones in even more detail. I have since brought 3 more of her books ready to be read (after my huge pile of college work of course). I like the way she only writes about emotional, heart wrenching stories. They are almost about real experiences but re-written into a novel - a bit like my sisters keeper.
Having only read one of Jodi Picoults books, I cannot really compare her work to others. I do absolutely love her writing style and everything is so interesting and emotional. Real life always captures me so much more than a made up story. Jodi deserves so much more praise for the work she has done, truly amazing author!
You can pick up your own copy online from eBay or Amazon, or in a bookstore for £7.99.
Handle with Care - Jodi Picoult
I have only ever read one other novel written by Jodi Picoult, which is possibly the same one that most people will know the name of either due to the book or its film adaptation; My Sisters Keeper. I absolutely loved this previous book, and the style of writing was so powerful that it made me want more. I am ashamed to say, though, that it has taken a number of months to continue on with her books. Within this time, I have actually purchased over half of her collection and they are all sitting on the bookshelves waiting for me to pick them up, though something which I have found is that, although I loved 'My Sisters Keeper', the subject matter in many of the books I have purchased are the sort in which you really need to be in the mood to read about. A lot of the time, I read fantasy books in which I can become lost in a whole other world, with Picoult's novels, the subject matters, although not ones that have happened in my life, are exactly as though it is happening right in front of me in my reality. This, I find, is the difficult thing about her books.
Thankfully, after a number of months, I finally picked up 'Handle With Care' and began to read...
WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Charlotte and Sean O'Keefe had been trying for a baby for years, and with the help of Charlotte's best friend, she finally falls pregnant in her late 30's. Late in the pregnancy, though, it is found that the baby has a number of broken bones which double when she is born. Willow O'Keefe has type III osteogenesis imperfecta, a condition causing extremely fragile bones otherwise known as severe brittle bone disease which will mean that she will suffer hundreds of painful broken bones as she goes through her life.
As the family struggle to make ends meet to cover Willow's medical expenses, Charlotte goes to meet a lawyer who sends her on the path to what she believes will help them all in the future; filing a wrongful birth lawsuit against her gynaecologist for not telling her in advance that her child would be born severely disabled, and her gynaecologist is not just any doctor - she is Charlotte's best friend.
As Charlotte prepares to go to court, ripples begin to tear apart everyone who is involved, especially between Charlotte, her husband and her two children, for Charlotte will have to stand in public and tell the world that she wishes that her daughter had never been born.
Having already read 'My Sisters Keeper', I already knew and felt comfortable with the style of writing, though even with this prior knowledge, I found that it took me quite a while to get used to the constant back and forth motion among all the characters. In simple terms, the book is written from the first persons point of view, though what makes this book a little more complex as well as making it extremely clever is the fact that it is written by more than one persons point of view; in the case of this book, seven different people tell their own part of the story. From beginning to end, each 'chapter' flits from one person to another, continuing the main story in their own words, bringing in their own thoughts and feelings we may not have come across if it had been written by the point of view of one person, or as a simple story with a main character. Everything which happens is related to the main story, and I found that by reading from all the different perspectives, we are able to really appreciate the story as a whole. Another unique form within this style is the way each character tells the story. In some ways it is rather like a journal/diary in the sense that there are many points in which dates are applied to the beginning of the page, with cookery notes slotted in between relating loosely to the happenings at the time (though in my opinion, not needed and a distraction to which I eventually started skipping over). In another sense, it is written as a letter to Willow herself. Each person wrote their point of view by addressing Willow. It is as though they are talking directly to her, telling her about her life story from each perspective. I found this a really interesting way of writing, and I feel that it made the story feel even more personal with such depth and feeling. It is something which may take some people a while to get used to, though I have read stories similar to this before, and none have pulled me in as much as this one did, and I think that is (in part) to do with this style of writing.
As well as the immaculate style this book takes, credit has to go to Picoult for her extremely vivid characters. In some ways, I feel that if the characters had not have been so 'alive' then the book would not have been so powerful. Of course, as I mentioned above, the story alone is nearly enough to have you captivated, yet the strength of the characters also play an extremely important role in the story. Each characterisation is, in my opinion, flawless. There is so much history and background to consider which is skilfully inserted into all parts of the story, bulking out the characters without being overwhelming. Everything about these characters; their backgrounds, their histories, their thoughts, feelings and situations, are all placed perfectly and nothing is there which should not be. Each character has their own distinct personalities and each fit around one another with such precision which seeps out of the pages in such strength and beauty.
What with the strength of story and amazing characters, it is hardly surprising that the flow is also well above average. The one issue which I did have, even though a very small issue, was the addition of the recipe pages. Every so often, before a new part of the book, there is a page or two which follows the form of a recipe. Before each recipe there is a small introduction from Charlotte (Charlotte being an ex-professional cook) which gives reason for the recipe, though apart from some being quite interesting in the way of wanting to make them myself, I found the recipes themselves an annoying break in the story. I understand to a degree why they are added, though personally I think it disjoints the otherwise perfect flow of the story and it would have perhaps been better without this addition.
The language within the book is rather self-contained which is refreshing. In many other stories of this kind, you may expect a number of choice words and phrases, though within these pages, the language is very well chosen and works really well for each part of the story.
One thing in which is very important to understand with Picoult's books in general, is that she writes, very powerfully, about moral dilemmas in a very vivid and emotionally draining way (emotionally draining in a good way though!). Handle with Care is no different. The whole book explores a messy and emotional tangle of medical ethics versus personal morality which will hit the heartstrings of many readers as well as sting a nerve with some others. For those faced with similar situations, the power behind the story may be too sensitive a subject for them. Either way, though, the way that it is all written is extremely clever and takes into deep consideration both sides of a story without any prejudice or personal opinions seeping through. It really makes the reader question their own beliefs about the subject, and ask the question about what they would do in that situation. I certainly spent a few hours whilst reading this book, debating on what I truly believed was right as every side of the story touched the heart. I thought I had known what I would do at the beginning, though by the end I was not as sure of myself! Some sensitive, moral and medical questions include terminations, religion, medical choices of doctors and parents, disability of many kinds, love and friendship, truth and many more aspects which may be sensitive to some.
With regards to the topical issues within the story, I feel that they are extremely well researched, though do not by any means read like a research paper. There is a distinct and perfect mix of fact and fiction and, although many medical words and phrases are used, they are dimmed down in comparison to many other stories such as this which I much prefer as who really wants to sit with a medical dictionary on their lap whilst reading a book?! Of course, there are a few moments in which went over my head slightly and I felt that I had to do some of my own research, yet these are few and far between and the research I did on these parts did not really disrupt my reading. Instead, I feel, my own research enhanced my ability to understand and enjoy the book.
One thing that I will mention is how long it took me to get into this book. I have so much praise for this story, yet it took me a couple of tries to really begin to fall into the pages. I even read a whole other book in between when I was right at the beginning! I am not sure whether this is due to the fact that you have to be in the right mind set to read a story like this and perhaps I was not the first time, or perhaps it was (as I found originally) a very slow start. Either way, on the second attempt, it only took me a couple of chapters to start enjoying the story and soon after this; I felt I could not put it down. It wasn't until the last third of the book, though, that I consider myself to have become slightly addicted to it!
One thing which I find very important in a book is the ending. A story can be written perfectly, though if the ending is wrong, then it gives me a really terrible feel to the whole book, almost as though I feel my time was wasted reading it, even if I did enjoy the rest of the story.
So how does the ending of this book compare?
I have mixed feelings about the ending. On the whole, I loved it. I was compelled to reach the end, wanting to know how it all turned out and not being able to foresee what was going to happen. The ending was exciting, emotional, powerful and incredible all in one, and long after I put the book down for the final time, I kept thinking about the issues in the story, the characters, the storyline and everything else which was perfectly written within the pages.
So where is the mixed feelings?
The ending was so familiar in a lot of senses to the previous Picoult novel I have read and I felt slightly robbed of something new. Having only read these two books, I have no idea as to whether this is a normal ending for this author, or whether it covers only these two books, yet I just felt it was too similar to parts. Saying this, though, I also loved the ending with the twist in both storyline and style. It rounded the whole story off well, though it threw a whole bunch of other questions about morality and life into the midst which makes it a perfect bookclub book. Although a little frustrating, it was also perfectly matched to the rest of the book.
After the false and slow start I had to the beginning of the book, I soon fell into the pages and found it both emotionally and profoundly moving. The reality of the situation is enhanced by the style and characters and the morality versus medical issues are written with sincere power and sincerity. The individual characters stories mixed with the relationships between one another as well as the story as a whole brings an unforgettable novel about the 'fragility of life and the lengths we will go to protect it'. It is not surprising that this book is a number one best seller!
I managed to pick this up at a car boot sale for 50p which was an amazing bargain considering I will certainly be reading this again and again. The RRP is £7.99 and even at that price I would recommend this! If you are a fan of Jodi Picoult, this is certainly one to purchase, and if not - give it a try - you wont regret it though do bare in mind the emotional morality and issues involved within the story.
I was inspired to read this by a friend, recommended due to the film success of 'My Sisters Keeper'. Having not read any of Jodi Picoult's books before I was open minded. I finished the book in the early hours of this morning, the story had drawn me in and picked up do much pace that I couldnt put it down!
This is definately a book I will pass on to my friends to read. The way Jodi Picoult writes is amazing, she gets right into your mind and your heart and forces you to face emotions and moral decisions that you couldnt possibly have thought about before. Just as I thought I had made my decision about the 'right and wrongs' in the book, she manages to twist them again and I see everything from a new perspective!
Her writing is well informed and educated and she has an excellent way of 'knowing' the characters so well, she makes them very relatable which adds to the feeling of the moral tug of war which is constantly in the back of your mind whilst reading this.
I won't spoil it for any of you, just recommend to read it!!!!
Jodi Picoult is one of my favourite authors and having read most of her books they usually meet my expectations and more although there have been a couple that I have not enjoyed quite so much. Generally though she writes thoughtfully and provocatively, liking to challenge her readers with moral and ethical dilemmas. Because of this I wouldn't recommend reading her novels back tyo back and I definitely like to intersperse them with a bit of lighter relief. However, when the time is right, her books are brilliant page turners and this is how I felt all the way through reading Handle with Care.
This is a tragic and controversial modern day story about a little girl called Willow who was born with an extremely serious condition known as osteogenesis imperfect (OI) otherwise known as brittle bones. When Willow is born she already had seven fractures and broke a few more bones during delivery. In five years she has had more breaks than she or her mother Charlotte can count which has led to many hospitalisations and the need for specially adapted equipment. The cost, both in money and emotional terms, is very high for all concerned but even so her parents Charlotte and Sean love her greatly and would do anything and everything for her. This is why they are so shocked and stunned when a lawyer suggests that they could sue for wrongful birth based on the fact that the condition was not picked up during the pregnancy until it was too late to seriously consider alternatives.
At first the idea is abominable especially as it would mean standing up in court and saying that they wish that Willow had never been born which is not true. Also, it would mean bringing a lawsuit of malpractice against Charlotte's obstetrician and best friend, Piper. They can hardly bear think about it but the prospect of a huge settlement would mean that they could meet the crippling cost of things not covered by insurance which will only rise as Willow gets older.
As you can see it is a moral and ethical minefield and if they choose to go ahead they know they will be vilified by the media and Charlotte will lose her best friend. And what about the implications for their two daughters - how will Willow feel if she hears her parents say that she should never have been born? Also, her older sister Amelia already feels overlooked because of all the necessary attention directed at Willow - she's likely to get even less now unless she behaves in such a way to make her parents notice her.
This is a wonderfully absorbing read and one that will provoke the reader to question themselves in many ways. It could be easy to sit in judgement one way or the other but one never really knows how they might behave in extreme situations. It is also a heart wrenching tale as one observes the fallout from what is taking place and the potential breakup of a once solid and loving family.
Jodi Picoult does her usual thing of telling the story from many points of view. In this case there are five main storytellers - Charlotte, Sean, Amelia, Piper, and Charlotte's solicitor Marin who also has her own issues to deal with. It is interesting the way they are each telling their part of the story to Willow and presenting their own perspectives as they do so. I have found this style a bit confusing in some of her books but not in this one. Maybe I have just become used to her style of writing and I did feel that it provided great insights into all of these main characters. It helps the reader to understand their actions which sometimes stops you hating them because of what they are thinking about doing.
It is a very emotional read and does bring up many issues as well as interweaving a number of story lines beautifully. I was hooked from the very first pages and could hardly bring myself to put it down. I did enjoy the book even though some of the story lines were quite challenging and by the end I was quite emotionally wrung out - isn't that what makes a great book though and one of the reasons that we want to read?
I thoroughly recommend Handle with Care which is currently available from Amazon for £4.00 in paperback (September 2010).
" Charlotte O'Keefe's beautiful, much-longed-for, adored daughter Willow is born with osteogenesis imperfecta - a very severe form of brittle bone disease. If she slips on a crisp packet she could break both her legs, and spend six months in a half body cast. After years of caring for Willow, her family faces financial disaster. Then Charlotte is offered a lifeline. She could sue her obstetrician for wrongful birth - for not having diagnosed Willow's condition early enough in the pregnancy to be able to abort the child. The payout could secure Willow's future. But to get it would mean Charlotte suing her best friend. And standing up in court to declare that she would have prefered that Willow had never been born... "
I brought this book as a treat as i am a massive Jodi Piccoult fan. I brought on paperback and it has 576 pages and was approx £4 from Amazon UK.
As with all Jodi Piccoult books there is always a strong moral issue running through the books story and this novel is no exception. It was a very intense read. I found myself being able to empathise with every character during the course of the story at some point.
The story is beautifully written as always with Jodi Piccoults book but i did not really understand why the recipes needed to be in the book. Seemed un-necessary to me and i was disappointed by the twist ending at the end. I am not sure why it was added on and would rather had not had the last 2 pages in the book. Sad ending to what is a good read.
Handle with care by Jodi Picoult
To save your daughter you must tell the world you wish she's never been born. What would you do?
Handle with care by Jodi Picoult is a touching story about Willow, a young child with brittle bone disorder and the lives of the people and a family that support and surround her. If you have read any of her previous novels then you will have an idea of what to expect. This story is an emotional rollercoaster as families are stretched to breaking points and beyond, friendships ruined and the lives of loved ones turned upside down until no one, not the characters nor the readers can tell what is right from wrong. Charlotte, willows mum sues her doctor for wrongful birth, her doctor is also her best friend and while Charlotte couldn't imagine life without Willow the family are in desperate need of some more money and this seems the only way ahead. Even Charlotte's husband can't bring himself to support her lawsuit and worries that the still so young Willow will learn what her mum is prepared to do...tell the world that she wishes Willow had never been born. There are a lot of complex relationships that are explored in this book, mother and child, husband and wife, best friends, sisters, while all these relationships are stressed and tested the novel hurls along at a constant pace.
As with the other Jodi Picoult books I have read the chapters are all broken up and divided into the voices of the characters, snapshots of their lives and their situations. I really enjoy this style, I think that it keeps the story flowing at a nice pace and keeps everything character driven. Personally, although Willow is only a small child she is one of the most endearing and wonderful characters Jodi Picoult has created to date. She has to overcome so much in her life and she does it with a grace that is beyond her years, it is easy to like her and that makes it easy to follow and engage with her story.
Charlotte is a pastry chief, or at least she was before she became a full time carer to Willow, this is reflected in one of the few things that I didn't really enjoy about this book. The author added recipes, squeezed in between the odd chapter here and there. Most of the time I really only gave them a cursory glance, I didn't pay that much attention to them, if anything I felt like the broke up the flow of the story. It just felt a bit gimmicky rather than being there to enhance the novel as a whole. There are a couple of the recipes that look delicious thou, I am sorely tempted to try my hand at making the delicious sounding lemon meringue pie.
Jodi Picoult is well known for her shock endings and this one doesn't disappoint, in fact I never saw it coming. It is as with most of her books a sad ending but it does leave the reader feeling like the family are hopeful for what the future will bring. The whole book has its sad moments but it also shows the strength people have to endure and try to find the light in overwhelming emotional situations that often have no right solution.
This book deserves a well earned five out of five stars, even with the few things I didn't like I still immensely enjoyed this book from start to finish. If you like this kind of fiction then I would recommend trying this book, it won't disappoint. I also think that if you haven't read any of her previous books then this would also be a good introduction, I have already loaned out my copy to several people and as of yet all of them have enjoyed this. It really is a good read, even if you may need to occasional hanky to hand.
Jodi Picoult Handle with Care a must read book for all Picoult lovers. I have read several of her books and never bore of them, even though they all follow a similar style of writing. Jodi pulls the reader in with a moral dilemma which makes you want to continue reading to the end. Jodi Picoult knows her subject matter and has researched it thoroughly. Handle with Care looks at a young girl suffering from Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), or brittle bone disease. Her medical bills rapidly spiral out of control and the family are thrown a lifeline, they must say they would have aborted her if they had known about her condition. The problem is the doctor is also the mother's best friend. This does not seem to upset her, although the rest of the family show remorse and compassion towards her. Charlotte and Sean, Willow's parents, lose sight of the family along the way and do not notice when Amelia, Willow's sister, becomes ill. Once again it is Piper who points it out to them. Ironically, although they win the case, they never use the money so have lost a good friendship in vain.
Willow O'Keefe is no ordinary child, she suffers from a condition called Osteogenesis Imperfecta. Osteogenesis Imperfecta is the medical name for what is known as brittle bone disease. Willow has type III of this condition, and a simple knock or fall can lead to one or more of her bones fracturing. The medical costs of looking after Willow are not completely covered by medical insurance and her parents are struggling with the continual medical bills.
Her mother Charlotte was told at 27 weeks by her Obstetrician (who is also her best friend) that Willow would be born with this condition. Charlotte is still best friends with her obstetrician many years later. However, a meeting with a lawyer suggests that there may be a case for suing her best friend for wrongful birth.
Charlotte is faced with a very difficult situation, in order to try and ensure that her daughter can receive the best medical care for the rest of her life, should she sue her best friend for wrongful birth? However this would mean that she would have to say that had she known earlier about her daughter's condition, she would not have gone ahead with the pregnancy and essentially tell everyone that she wished her daughter had not been born.
Jodi Picoult is known for writing moral dilemma novels and this is no exception. The material is gritty and the characters are well-developed. I could identify with Charlotte and why she was feeling under such strain. Willow was a great character as well, she was funny and really brought home to me that no matter what illness a child has, they are still children and no matter what any child will try and find a way to get into trouble. Charlotte also has an older daughter Amelia and the interaction between Charlotte and Amelia was gripping. This part of the book was particularly good for me as it strongly showed the impact of Willow's condition on her older sister. Charlotte husband was also written well too and I could understand how their relationship was suffering too. The only thing that I really felt was unnecessary and didn't add anything to the story was the continual recipes dotted throughout the book. This was due to Charlotte being a pastry chef before Willow was born, but halfway through the book I gave up and stopped reading them as they really weren't adding anything to the story.
There was a secondary storyline, which I won't give any details away about as it will spoil it for anyone who hasn't read the book yet. I can say though that it was excellent, I was completely surprised and shocked by the twist and thought it was written superbly. I won't also say anything about the ending but in true Jodi Picoult style there is a twist. Some will like it and others won't, I wasn't that keen on the ending but not to the extent where I felt it ruined the book.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The story didn't feel forced at any point and the characters were believable. I felt that the first half of the book was better than the second half. That isn't to say that the second half of the book wasn't any good, it was just the first half was superb as it not only set up the story nicely but also provided me with a lot of information about Osteogenesis Imperfecta, something which I only knew the basics about.
I would recommend this book to people. It was a great read and I felt quite emotionally involved by the end of it. If you've never read Jodi Picoult's books, then this would be a good one to try. If you are a fan of her books and haven't read it then what are you waiting for!
Ever since she was born - and even before that - Willow O'Keefe has had many broken bones, due to the fact she has a rare disease called Osteogenisis Imperfecta (OI). Her parents Charlotte and Sean are devastated and as Willow grows older, the O'Keefe's learn that having a child with such a terrible disease not only impacts on family life in itself but that the medical expenses are crippling. Salvation comes, though, when Charlotte learns she has a case for Wrongful Birth - that if she had known about Willow's condition at 18 weeks she would have aborted her baby. That means, though, that Charlotte has to stand up in court and admit to the world that she wished her much loved daughter had never been born. It also means losing her best friend, Piper, as she was Charlotte's obstetrician during her pregnancy. Can a case like this ever have a right or wrong answer?
It was kind of by accident that I came upon Jodi Picoult's books. My mum brought home two of them after a day out and after a quick glance at one of them I decided to give it a read. Hours later I had finished My Sister's Keeper and I couldn't stop crying. I thought it was a fantastic book and the twist at the end was such a shock that I actually didn't believe it. I then heard about Jodi releasing a book that was going to send shock-waves through America called Nineteen Minutes, about a teen gunman opening fire at a school, made more shocking by the fact that prior to its release there was a school shooting in America. I thought it sounded like an incredibly interesting read and I loved that, too. Since then I've collected as many of Jodi's books as I can and I've finally gotten around to reading my third Jodi novel.
One thing you can guarantee with a Jodi Picoult book is that the book is going to be controversial. With Handle With Care the controversial topic is, of course, abortion. Is it right to want to abort a child just because s/he has brittle bones? To stand up in court and declare to the world that, if you had known about the disease with enough time left, that you would have aborted your child? That is basically what Handle With Care does: it asks us to answer that question made more difficult by the fact that every single person has a differing opinion and there is, to be perfectly honest, no right or wrong answer. In my humble opinion I don't agree with abortion. But I do think there are extenuating circumstances - if you learn your child will be severely disabled and unable to live at least a comfortable life then I can see it but, really, I believe every child deserves the chance to live life.
I could - and still can - see Charlotte's point though and I personally believe that although Charlotte had to stand up in court and declare the fact that had she known about her daughter's condition earlier she would have aborted her, I don't think that was the case at all. I don't think it was ever about having Willow aborted, it was more about trying to help Willow lead a better life. I don't agree with what Charlotte did to give Willow the chance of having a better life but I could see from her perspective that, as a mother, she would do everything she could to make sure her daughter didn't suffer. Of course, suing your best friend is never the answer and it definitely helps create a great conflict of interests. The thing that most helps Handle With Care is the way in which it's narrated. We have several narrators in the book. Charlotte, I would say, is our main narrator but we also get the points of view of Sean, Charlotte's husband and Willow's father; Amelia, Willow's older sister; Piper, Charlotte's (ex)best friend and obstetrician, and Marin, Charlotte's lawyer and they all think different things which helps to further the book.
At times, I hated Charlotte for what she was doing because we, the reader, could see the strain it was having upon her family. It was like a bomb had gone off in the center of their universe and they were all off balance trying to claw their way back. For the most part though I didn't mind Charlotte. I felt I could never really like her properly because what she was doing, for me, was morally wrong but on the other hand I understood it. I felt great sympathy for Sean, Charlotte's husband. I could see his frustrating mounting as Charlotte decided to go through with the lawsuit and I could also see just how heartbroken he was to see his and Charlotte's marriage suffer culminating in him going over to the other side and even leaving his home for a time. One of the most complex characters of the entire book was Amelia, Willow's older sister, she has a tough time dealing with everything particularly since she feels as if her parents aren't even bothered about her any more and it was hard to see just how much Willow's illness had also affected Amelia's life. She faces some huge difficulties - and at times, she seemed so much more older than her 12 years - and I was so sad for her. I also found myself feeling huge sympathy for Piper, Charlotte's best friend and obstetrician. I mean with friends like Charlotte, who would need enemies? What Charlotte does to Piper is so so wrong and could never be justified in a million years. The fact is that Charlotte's lawsuit not only destroyed her own family, it also destroyed Piper's. I can't say I was a huge fan of Marin, Charlotte's lawyer, I felt that I never really got to know her. She has her own subplot throughout the book which was very interesting, though.
The one character I have so far failed to mention is one of my favourite ever child characters. Heck, she's probably one of my favourite characters period and that is young Willow. Despite having OI and despite having had numerous broken bones throughout her life, she is constantly upbeat and cheery. She doesn't let her brittle bones get her down and to read that her mother wants to stand up in court and say that this beautiful girl shouldn't have lived really was quite heartbreaking. For a six year old, Willow was very bright and it was clear to see that what was going on in her parents lives was affecting her badly and I just wanted to cuddle her (not tightly though!). The scenes in which Willow breaks her bones were quite frank and honest and they really made me wince.
Like most of Jodi Picoult's books - or, the three that I've read - the ending was rather sad. Jodi Picoult somehow manages to chuck in surprising twists near the end/at the end of her books but, yet again, I didn't see it coming at all. I didn't think it was as sad as My Sister's Keeper but it was definitely a shock. Jodi's writing is as fantastic as always and she really manages to suck me in every time. I always wonder after finishing the previous one if liking Jodi's book was a one off but so far I've been totally wrong. The only thing I wasn't such a huge fan was the recipes sporadically through the book. I just skipped them so I could carry on with the story proper. However, I will certainly not be leaving the rest of Jodi's books I have on my shelf for much longer, that's for sure. I hugely recommend you pick up Handle With Care. Believe me, you will not regret it.
Willow was born with a condition called Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), otherwise known as Brittle Bone Disease. This illness means that her bones are incredibly fragile and can break or snap after even the slightest movement. This obviously makes life extremely difficult for her and her family but it's still somewhat shocking when her mother, Charlotte, opts to start a wrongful birth case. Charlotte's husband, Sean, is horrified at this turn of events. It's bad enough that pursuing a wrongful birth case would mean that they would have to publicly argue that they would have thought about aborting the pregnancy if they had been told about the condition earlier, but the doctor who Charlotte wants to sue for malpractice is her best friend, Piper.
Like many of Jodi Picoult's novels, this plot involves both a lesser- known medical issue (OI, in this case, which I must admit that I'd never heard of to the extent that it is portrayed in the book) and a legal battle. Because it features both very heavily, there is the usual moral dilemna that characterises many of her books. The narrative is of the second person variety with most of the characters referring to Willow as "you" rather than by name itself. The reason for this becomes more clear at the end of the book. Like "My Sister's Keeper", the chapters focus on one character at a time and is told from their perspectives. The main characters for this are Charlotte, Sean, Amelia (Willow's sister), Piper and Marin (Charlotte's lawyer). While the narrative predominantly follows a chronological patterm, it does shift around between past and present in some chapters to give the reader a better idea of what has taken place from that particular character's perspective.
As far as the characters go, most of them were likeable and realistic. The biggest exception to this is Charlotte. While I sympathise with the difficulties involved in bringing up a child with a condition like OI and I don't doubt that she loves her daughter very much, she was single-minded in her pursuit of the lawsuit to the extent where she either couldn't see or didn't care how it was affecting everything around her. For me, she was a character that verged on the unlikeable, and my sympathy lay much more with Piper as far as the lawsuit was concerned. Charlotte seemed to have no real concern for how the lawsuit would affect Piper's career, even if Piper was to win, as long as they got enough money to take care of Willow's medical expenses. I saw this as very cold, especially when she had no intention of aborting the child even if she had known about Willow's condition earlier, which goes against the whole idea of a wrongful birth case.
That isn't to say that I didn't like the book though. I actually found it quite fascinating to read about Willow's condition and see how the lawsuit action would pan out. As usual, Jodi Picoult has gone to town on her research and offers a compelling read on a subject that most of her readers will probably know little about before they pick up the book.
I haven't enjoyed the last couple of Picoult's books as much as her earlier ones - I don't know whether this is because her stories are often formulaic or whether they have just not been as good. Anyway I bought Handle with Care on a recent holiday to the States - I'd finished the books I'd taken with me and there wasn't much choice in the supermarket I was in.
Am really glad I picked the book as I could hardly put it down, I was in tears many times which shows how engaged I was with the story. But I was so disappointed with the ending - the last 2 page chapter is such a let down and I felt exactly the same as when I finished My Sister's Keeper - that the author couldn't be bothered to finish the book off properly. I like twists at the end of a book as much as the next person but only when something new is revealed or explained by the ending.
Handle with Care tells the story of the O'Keefe family, dad Sean is a hard working local policeman, mum Charlotte is an ex-pastry chef with 2 daughters, 13 year old Amelia from a previous relationship now adopted by Sean and 6 year old Willow who suffers from a genetic disease - Osteogenesis imperfecta or brittle bone disease. This was diagnosed in utero but crucially not at the earliest opportunity - an 18 week scan by her best friend and maternity doctor Pippa did in retrospect reveal certain indicators of the disease.
The O'Keefes' family life has been massively impacted by the realities of Willow's disease - financially, practically and emotionally and of course Willow herself is in almost constant pain from broken and healing bones and she cannot join in with 'normal' childhood activity. However Willow is a real character, precociously bright for her age and determined to live her life to the full.
The bulk of the book is taken up with the court case brought by Charlotte who decides to sue her doctor (best friend Pippa) for wrongful birth - in other words saying that had she known Willow would suffer from this disease she would have chosen to terminate the pregnancy at 18 weeks. The story is told from the perspective of mum, dad, sister, doctor and mum's lawyer in turn which makes the book so readable. However interspersed throughout the book are recipes for desserts (mum being a trained pastry chef) - whether this adds to the story at all is beyond me as after the first couple I just skipped them.
I expect most who have read any of her previous books will be familiar with the dilemmas the characters face but I did think this one was particularly gripping and if it wasn't for the rubbish ending I would have given it 5 stars. I see the book is on sale at amazon for £4.00 so would highly recommend it for a summer holiday read.
After being recommended "My sister's keeper" By Jodi Picoult repeatedly, I finally got round to reading it in the summer, and ever since I have been hooked with her combinations of illness and crime, this is the third book I have read by her, but still I can't compare any of her brilliant reads.
~~About the book and author~~
Jodi Picoult is an American writer who specialises in writing about illness, law, and crime, in most of your her books you'll find 1, if not all of those themes.
She has written 18 books, the first one, Songs of the humpback whale, was written in 1992, Handle with care is her latest, being published in 2009, (another book, House rules, is set to be released later this year.) Her most famous book is my sister's keeper, which was the basis of the popular film.
Handle with care, has book club questions at the back like most of her books that I have come across, (It's hard not to read them as they can give you little clues to the ending!) The paper back version is 507 pages long, so it's a great long read!
~~The story plot~~
The book begins with a Charlotte O' keefe recounting how she felt on the night of Willow's birth, (Talking to Willow directly, with "You", a thing that recurs through all the character's chapters) Willow is born with her bones broken, Due to a rare condition called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a condition that means she could break a bone just from stamping her foot too hard, then later in the night when her heart stops, and Charlotte hears Willow's ribs break, she sign a Do not resuscitate order.
Back in the present day, it's Amelia's turn, Willow's older sister, to tell her story, when a simple trip to Disney land leaves a 5 year old Willow with half her body in plaster and her parents under scrutiny, Sean, Willow's Dad, wants to sue, something to help ease the pain they've gone through, plus a little money would help with all of Willow's medical costs, but when that doesn't work, Charlotte finds out about a way to make money, the wrongful birth suit will fault the obstetrician who could of spotted Willow's condition before she was born, the obstetrician who happens to be Charlotte's best friend, but even after that decision, Charlotte can only get the money to help Willow, by saying she wished Willow had never been born...
The main story takes place over a long period of time, (about 2 years) allowing us to get a realistic insight into all the twists the story will take, a the consequences that will splinter from it, there's also the minor plot of their lawyer Marin, who, seeing Charlotte's lengths to help her daughter, wonders about her own mother...
Pretty much all of the character's who have any effect on the plot have a chapter where they have a first person narrative, this gives the book greater meanings and depths and helps to humanize the characters, (and again, with the long story plot, they are developed in well and realistically in terms of how the law suit will effect them.)
All of the character's talk to Willow as "you" in their narratives, (apart from willow herself in the last chapter.) so you get a sense of connection to the little girl, and seeing everybody's views on her plight makes it so much more sad.
But despite Willow's tragic plot, the character I relate most to has to be Amelia, her older sister, who is constantly being forgotten about, but still loves her sister, the chapters where she puts herself down because of her figure, or faces name calling at school turns my stomach, I really feel as if I'm' suffering with her, she creates great empathy.
Once again Jodi hasn't failed to please, with her characters and touching storylines, you will get completely absorbed, a definite recommend!!
Handle with Care
Willow is a five year old little girl. She is extremely clever, can recall random facts of by heart, charms everybody she knows but has a harder life than most as she has a disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), or brittle bone disease. Her parents are coping, just, but money is extremely tight but when a lawyer tells her mother Charlotte that they may have a case to sue for wrongful death, Charlotte goes down a path that she cannot even detour away from. Unfortunately the person she is suing is her best friend Piper and the law suit ends up tearing everybody's lives apart.
I have read quite a few of Jodi Picoult's books now and I am a big fan. She is the UK's number one bestselling women's fiction author. I like the fact that she often asks a question on the front of her books and gets you thinking about it before you have even read it. It might be clever marketing on her side but it definitely draws you to her books, get you hooked and then you want to read on and on. This book is no exception. On the front of Handle with Care she writes, "To save your daughter you must tell the world you wish she'd never been born. What would you do?
To give you a quick overview of her books I would say that they generally involve some type of crime, whether it be crimes of the heart, passion or crimes against other people. There is then quite a lot of the book devoted to a trial involving the lawyers, those on trial etc and the people around them. She always does a great job of developing different characters. I think sometimes though if you have read quite a lot of her books you might get a bit bored as they all follow the same format and sometimes you can kind of guess where the story is headed but having said that if the subject matter grabs you then you will still be interested in the book.
I really enjoyed the subject matter of this book so I enjoyed this read. I think I liked it because I have recently had a daughter so the feelings she was describing now mean something to me. I found myself mentally noting what was good to do as a parent and what was not. Charlotte has an older daughter, Amelia and by focusing on Willow all these years she has kind of ignored Amelia and so she unfortunately develops an eating disorder. It was interesting the way Picoult described it and was good to see the trigger points that lead to the disease and perhaps how one as a parent could avoid these for their kids. The story was a very interesting one and really made you think about what you would do. The money Willow would win would ensure that her medical bills were paid and that when she moved into adulthood things like an adapted house or nurse care would be able to be paid for too. However, if Charlotte wants to win she has to say that she wishes Willow was never born.
The book was written in a very interesting way. Each chapter was dedicated to a specific person in Willow's life who then talks in the second person to Willow about their own experiences in her story. The characters in the chapters are Charlotte, her mother, Sean her father, Amelia her sister, Piper her obstetrician and Marin, the lawyer. It's only when we get to the end that we hear Willow's own views but we learn all about her character from what other people tell us and to me she sounds like a lovely little girl who you feel sorry for but at the same time inspired by her grit and determination at life. I won't give up the end of the story but it's an interesting one and definitely worth discussion.
Her books are a step above Chick Lit as we know it but I think on whole they are quite easy to read, very engaging as I find most of them to be page turners and want to keep on reading and in most cases I would say these books are aimed at women although I can see men reading them too. What I like also is that Picoult tends to do a lot of research into her books and really knows her subject matter. I didn't know anything about OI before reading this book but now I seem to have quite a good idea about the disease and what sufferers go through.
She has been quoted as saying in the back of her book that, "Personally I like books that make you think, books you're still wondering about three days after you finish them; books you hand to a friend and say "read this, so we can talk about it." I suppose I'm just writing the kind of novel I like to read."
The book is 551 pages long. In the back it features discussion questions that are great if you are part of a book club and are reading this book for that. She has a website which can be found at www.jodipicoult.co.uk.