Things break all the time.
Day breaks, waves break, voices break.
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, well, 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 should have 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?
Emotionally riveting and profoundly moving, Handle with Care brings us into the heart of a family bound by an incredible burden, a desperate will to keep their ties from breaking, and, ultimately, a powerful capacity for love. Written with the grace and wisdom she’s become famous for, beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult offers us an unforgettable novel about the fragility of life and the lengths we will go to protect it.
I used to be a huge Picoult fan. The Pact was the first book I read, and I loved it, and it, Mercy, Keeping Faith, Plain Truth, and Salem Falls are my favorites by Ms. Picoult. The last book I truly enjoyed was My Sister’s Keeper. Since then, I’ve felt she’s grown too formulaic. The central female character seems to always be the same person, with just the other characters and plot being what changes from book to book. There is always that end twist, and it has become terribly predictable.*
Handle With Care was another disappointment to me. It is similar to My Sister’s Keeper – family has a normal child but also has a daughter with a health issue. This time it is osteogenesis imperfecta – brittle bones. Her bones break with very little effort. The lawsuit comes about when Charlotte, the mother, decides to sue her doctor for wrongful birth, claiming she should have caught the disease earlier in utero and recommended abortion. It is not so much that Charlotte truly believes she would have aborted her baby, but she could use the money she would receive towards her daughter’s medical expenses. What makes the situation complicated is that her doctor is also her best friend. You can probably imagine how well this situation works out for all involved. Charlotte is the same main female character from every other book. The marriage is the same. If you are familiar with her other works, you can probably guess some of the main plot points without reading it.
If you truly are a Picoult fan, I’d say read this. If not, skip it. She has other books that are better.
2 and 1/2 stars
*SPOILER ALERT: While I blame the publisher for this, the cover gives away the “big twist,” and any doubt you might have is erased by Ms. Picoult’s writing fairly early in the book. As the old saying goes, you don’t bring out a gun in act one without having it go off by act three. I think the lake can easily be compared to the gun in the saying.