Saturday, May 30, 2009

Julie's Review: Handle With Care

Summary: Perennial bestseller Picoult (Change of Heart) delivers another engrossing family drama, spiced with her trademark blend of medicine, law and love. Charlotte and Sean O'Keefe's daughter, Willow, was born with brittle bone disease, a condition that requires Charlotte to act as full-time caregiver and has strained their emotional and financial limits. Willow's teenaged half-sister, Amelia, suffers as well, overshadowed by Willow's needs and lost in her own adolescent turmoil. When Charlotte decides to sue for wrongful birth in order to obtain a settlement to ensure Willow's future, the already strained family begins to implode. Not only is the defendant Charlotte's longtime friend, but the case requires Charlotte and Sean to claim that had they known of Willow's condition, they would have terminated the pregnancy, a statement that strikes at the core of their faith and family. Picoult individualizes the alternating voices of the narrators more believably than she has previously, and weaves in subplots to underscore the themes of hope, regret, identity and family, leading up to her signature closing twists.

Review: Last year I had heard Jodi Picoult speak on her new release for 2008's Change of Heart and she mentioned what her newest book was about and it sounded intriguing. Handle with Care doesn't disappoint. Parrallels have been drawn between this book and My Sister's Keeper. While there are similarities the books are very different. That being said Handle with Care is pretty close to being up there with My Sister's Keeper.
One thing I like about Ms. Picoult's writing is that she's consistent. Meaning you know how the story is going to be told and that it'll end up in a courtroom. If she changed that formula, I'd wonder who she had assigned to write her books. I know some people think this is getting old but I like it. As with most of her books I've read she doesn't disappoint. We are introduced to the O'Keefe family: Sean, Charlotte, Amelia and Willow. We see the story through their eyes which allows the reader to get the full story instead of one side. We also see the story through Marin and Piper's eyes. Marin is the attorney set to sue Charlotte's best friend, Piper for wrongful birth. Unlike My Sister's Keeper where I couldn't STAND the mom, I really felt for Charlotte. She loved Willow and couldn't imagine her life without her but at the same time she put her life on hold forever to care for this little girl.

My favorite character was Amelia. My heart definitely went out to her through the course of this novel. She was the forgotten kid. Sean and Charlotte were so focused on Willow that Amelia would be left to fend for herself. Amelia began to feel like since she wasn't physcially disabled that she didn't belong; so she begins to hurt herself. One thing Jodi always does well is bringing one main issue to light but then there's always subsequent issues that are highlighted in the book as well. This one is no different. All that Amelia wants is to be noticed and out of her sister's shadow.

I can't give too much away but there are a couple good twists right at the end. While this book didn't make me cry like many of her's do. I felt that the ending was fitting. It's tragic but not in the same way that My Sister's Keeper was tragic.

I can't say how I would handle having a special needs child but I'd like to think that I would rise to the occasion. What would you do if you knew at 17 weeks that you were going to have a disable child? Would you want someone to at least offer you the option of terminating? That's really what this novel comes down to, not if she loves her daughter or not. As with all Jodi's book, she makes you think out of your comfort level and for that I thank her.

Final Take: 4.5/5


Serena June 2, 2009 at 9:43 AM  

i have this in the tbr pile. I hope to get to it soon

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