Sunday, April 24, 2011

Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult

Synopsis in a Sentence: A family struggles with raising their daughter who has osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease).

My Thoughts: First of all, I want to commend Jodi Picoult for her plethora of novels about compelling and controversial issues. It's pretty amazing how she can take a touchy issue and weave a whole family and legal drama around it. However, having said that, I wasn't actually thrilled by Handle with Care. I think the biggest reason is that it was so similar to her other novel, My Sister's Keeper, except it wasn't as well written as that book was.

The story is told from various points of view: the mother, father, older sister, as well as sections by the doctor who delivered the girl and the lawyer who is put on this case. The girl's name is Willow and this is a nice twist, due to the fact that willow trees bend with the wind and storms instead of breaking and falling as sometimes other trees do. Willow has brittle bone disease which was very interesting to learn about as I had never really heard about this condition before. It is characterized (as we find out in the novel) by bones breaking in the body at the slightest accident or fall, although their are various stages of severity.

Jodi Picoult builds a story around the fact that the OB doctor who delivered Willow (who also happens to be Willow's mother's best friend), should have discovered Willow's condition while she was still in the womb and given the parents the choice on whether or not to keep their baby. The fact that she didn't catch the likelihood of them having an "abnormal" baby, has led Willow's parents to lead an incredibly stressful life, devoted almost entirely to the caretaking of their daughter. Meanwhile, their other daughter feels completely alone and hardly ever receives her parent's attention.

I guess I found it a little bit unlikely that a legal case like this could have become such a big drama as Picoult portrays it in the novel, but it does make for a fast paced read. However, the marital tension that arises between Willow's parents is both understandable and realistic as they navigate the incredible difficulty of raising a daughter with special needs.

As a former special ed teacher, I would recommend this book to teachers and parents of children with special needs as I think they would find a lot to relate to in this book! If you had to choose though, I would definitely pick My Sister's Keeper over this slightly mediocre novel.

What I liked most: Reading about Willow's humor and strength as she struggles with her disease makes you think about and admire what people with disabilities go through on a daily basis. It reminds you that your health is worth taking care of and one of the most important things in life.

What I liked least: Picoult puts her signature startling twist at the end of the book, but in this one, it just doesn't seem like it works...kinda feels forced, like she was going for shock effect instead of a satisfying or plausible ending.


  1. Excellent review. I read "My Sister's Keeper" which was the 1st Picoult novel I ever read. I tried reading another (can't even rember the title and it was a DNF). Will remember not to pick this one up. Thank you for your hones and well written review.

  2. Oh no! Picoult is my favorite author. I have this one on my shelf and I'm sure I will still give it a try....

  3. Fantastic review.

    Beautiful design too.

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  4. Hi! Interesting review- my sister's keeper is I think the only Jodi Picoult I've read - liked it, but have not really been drawn back for more. Found you through your book blogs link, following from and look forward to reading more.

  5. Great review! I read this book and a few others by Picoult. I thought the concept for this story was interesting, but I hated the way the mom turned on her best friend- and was all about the money. I also felt bad for Willow, what a confusing court case to be a part of for a child.

    I just signed up to follow your blog (found you through book blogs). When you have a chance the blog for my middle grade novel is:

    ~Jess (I have some crossed wires somewhere and this may show up as my main character, Fairday. I am not sure why that is happening.)

  6. I've read and really enjoyed My Sister's Keeper so this book looked interesting as well. Without having read it yet, and going by your review, it does seem very similar in plot, just different characters and a different medical issue. I wonder how it would come off if one hadn't already read My Sister's Keeper. I may still look this one up just to compare. Thanks for the review.

  7. Thank you for your post. I am a nursing student, and found out about this disease in one of my biology classes. Like you I felt like I was reading Sister's Keeper. But it felt like a page turner. I don't remember too much because I read it a few years ago. Hope to read more reviews on your blog.