I discovered early on that Jodi Picoult was of those authors who wrote novels I would enjoy no matter what they were about. I own many of her books and even though I haven’t read all that are my shelf right now, I have read many of them. Among these is Handle With Care which may be my favourite of her books up to this point.
Every parent worries about their child getting hurt, but for Willow’s parents, Charlotte and Sean, it’s a daily fight against broken bones and casts and trying to help their daughter find her place in a world that really wasn’t made for her. Handle With Care tells the story of Willow O’Keefe, her family, and the struggles they face. Willow was born with osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) Type III, also known as Brittle Bone Disease. This essentially means that Willow’s bones are like glass. When Willow suffers a severe break it results in her parents going to see a lawyer, though things don’t go exactly as they had originally planned. Instead they end up in a wrongful birth lawsuit which begs the question, “If they had known Willow was sick, would they have kept her?” This lawsuit pits Charlotte and Sean against each other, Charlotte against her best friend Piper (who was also her OB/GYN), and Charlotte and Sean’s oldest daughter Amelia against the whole world. A truly moving story with tests and turns you won’t see coming.
As I said before, I have read several of Picoult’s book, but this was one I had been wanting to read for ages. When I finally got it, it only took me a few days to get through it as I could just not put it down.
Brittle Bone is a rare disease, the first time I heard about it was in an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and from that moment on I really wanted to learn about it. Jodi Picoult does an excellent job of explaining the disease and how it works and what it’s affects are, as well as the various treatments for it, without giving readers and information overload.
Now, one of my favourite things about Picoult’s novel is the way each of her chapters is told from the point of view of a different character. It helps keep the story interesting and adds so much depth to each character as you get a chance to learn a little more about them throughout each of their chapters. The first time I read one of her books I thought this style of reading would confuse me, but it all flowed together so well and now I look forward to seeing which character is up next. This actually had a lot of influence on my writing style in regards to BYB and have done the same method where each chapter is told from the POV of a different character (though I’m still working on the flow thing).
Writers have the challenge of creating characters who have many different dimensions and sides. No one wants to read about a flat character, a perfect character, or an evil character with no redeemable qualities. Sure, sometimes that’s the point, but in majority of books that’s not what people what. And that’s not what writers want either. Handle With Care contains characters who, whether they get a POV or not, are far from two-dimensional and boring.
You love them and you hate them. Charlotte, she loves her husband and her best friend, but she’ll risk losing them to do what she has to for her children. Even if it means people all over the world hate her. As a reader you will hate her for some of the things she does, for how oblivious she becomes to some of the people around her (like Amelia) while she’s focused on Willow and the lawsuit. But you also can’t help but love her for the same thing. For loving both her children that she risks everything. I think the only character I didn’t hate or dislike for any reason was Amelia. She’s a teenager caught in the middle of her parent’s lawsuit and you can’t help but feel bad for her. Even when she’s acting like a bratty child, you can’t dislike her. Because she is just a child and while everyone is trying to shield her from the lawsuit, they’re not doing a very good job.
Something else Picoult does that I love is intertwines her storylines. Charlotte’s lawyer, Marin, at first seems to be a character who’s adoption storyline was totally separate from her interactions with Charlotte and the family. But as the story progresses you see how it relates. How this woman who was given away at birth could connect to this family who now has to say they would have terminated their pregnancy if they had known about Willow’s illness. And let me tell you, there is twist you will never see coming.
Written in Picoult’s usual (and wonderful) style, Handle With Care is a moving and intriguing novel that you will not be able to put down. By far my favourite of her novels that I’ve read, I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a new read. I can’t wait to pick up her next book and see what’s in store.
Have you read any of Jodi Picoult’s books? Did you have a favourite?