Monday, April 13, 2009

Book Review - "Handle With Care" by Jodi Picoult

"Handle With Care" by Jodi Picoult - 4

Rating Scale: 1 – Didn’t Finish. 2 – Meh. 3 – Kept my interest, but probably wouldn’t read again. 4 – Would Recommend. 5 – LOVED IT! Added it to my list of favorites!

I struggled with the rating scale on this one. I'm not sure if it is possible to "love" a book like this. Like "Still Alice", it was pretty tough to read. I have to say, I've never read a poorly written Picoult book. She's one of those authors that has a gift for words, and also a drive and professionalism that shows in the VAST amount of research that appears throughout her novels. Given those factors, I can't responsibly say it wasn't a good book, because it was an EXCELLENT book. I just probably wouldn't read it again, because it was so incredibly sad on so many levels.

"Handle With Care" is about a family with a little girl who was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or brittle bone disease. It is a disease that very few people have, but it causes the bones of the victims to break at almost any moment - from turning over in bed to bumping a leg on a couch. Obviously, the story is also about the effect that this disease has on the family. The teenage sister struggles with self-image and feelings of jealousy and abandonment. The parents' marriage takes a dark turn as the Mother explores a lawsuit that, if won, would change the family's financial situation dramatically. In addition to the family's struggles, "Handle With Care" explores the moral dilemma of whether or not to sue the family doctor (and the Mother's best friend) for "wrongful birth", which essentially means that the parents would have chosen to terminate the pregnancy if they would have known about their daughter's disease in time.

One of the signature features of a Picoult book is the exploration of all sides of a moral dilemma. Each of her novels explores a different issue, but instead of presenting only one arguement for or against, Picoult manages to lay out the moral landscape from a birds-eye-view, thus allowing you to draw your own conclusions of which side is right and which is wrong. "Handle With Care" left me unable to decide what I would have done if I were in this Mother's position. On one hand, I can understand why she would want to change her family's dire financial situation (if for no other reason than to provide a better future for her disabled daughter), but on the other hand, I don't think it is right to essentially lie (she had to say she wished her daughter was never born) in order to win a lawsuit.

Not only was it difficult to read about the pain and difficulties this poor little girl has to go through every day, but as a newlywed, I found it truly heartbreaking to read about the marital difficulties that this poor couple dealt with. As the reader, you can see that both parents love each other deeply, but they can't agree on a fundamental moral issue. I wanted to reach through the pages and shake them. Because of these painful issues, I have a tough time telling people to read the book. It harbors so much sadness and so much reality that it isn't able to provide the "escape" that I treasure so much in my reading travels. On the other hand, I would absolutely NOT discourage you from reading this wonderful novel. Just read it with the understanding that it will probably make you cry.

For a quick read about the book signing I went to for "Handle With Care", just click HERE!

54 comments:

K @ Blog Goggles said...

This sounds really interesting. I'll look it up!

Thanks for the rec :)

Insert Book Title Here said...

Excellent review! This book sounds great.

anonymously chic said...

good review and i think it's very fair. picoult is gifted with confronting a readers sense of right and wrong which is uncomfortable as a reader, but so necessary to grow as a person, period.

Literary Feline said...

I do like how Picoult is able to present so many sides of an issue. I haven't yet read this one, but I do hope to one day. Thank you for a great review.

Charlotte's Web of Books said...

This book alone has turned Jodi Picoult into another John Grisham for me.

The ending disappointed me so much that I will probably never read another one of her books.

NotNessie said...

Wow.. this sounds like an intense read. I have to agree with you about her writing style and research; it's always impressive. And I would add that I never walk away from one of her books feeling like the same person I was when I started, though I don't always know if that's a good thing or not.

bookinn said...

Love all of her books! Need to read this one sounds good.
Natalie

Anita said...

I totally agree with you about Picoult being an excellent writer. She really knows how to tackle an issue that no one really wants to look at.

I, too, have a hard time recommending any of her books though. I got "My Sister's Keeper" on audio - my first Picoult book - and it was heart wrenching to say the least. But very very well done. I've read another of her books - although the second one is escaping my memory right now...both were the same. Very hard on the heart. I can't honestly say I enjoy reading books like that, but there is no denying Jodi is a very good writer

Thanks for the review! :)

Michael Phelps said...

This is a very intense, thoughtful Review! Now that I know what to expect, even though it is out of the genre I like and write about, it sounds like a book and an Author that I MUST read!

Connie said...

I read this book voraciously. Picoult might not be the most literary of authors (and you might lose some street cred if you admit you like her, among snootier circles) but she sure knows how to tug those heartstrings. Always a fun read.

-Connie @ constance-reader.blogspot.com

Tea said...

I definitely want to read "Handle With Care." Thanks for your review. I would love to meet Jodi Picoult. Lucky you!

Karen, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" said...

My husband and I both read this book. I like Jodi Picoult and although this one was good, I like some of her others much better. I did not agree with the mother's actions but did understand why she did it. What I didn't understand was the ending. You are right that this is a very sad one.

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Kristin said...

I love all Jodi Picoult books. The Tenth Circle I believe is my favorite so far but I havent found one that I havent liked. Handle with Care is on my to read list!

GentleLavender said...

Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite writers and you've really posted an excellent review that doesnt really take sides. Still, it makes a reader want to read the book coz few writers can grasp and write about moral dilemma, capturing all angles subtly, the way Picoult can.

I've read several of her books and will definitely grab this one to read. My favorite book of hers is Nineteen Minutes. As a mother, it made me cry endlessly and worry about choices that I can make for my child. As a writer, I marvelled that such fine writing, intricate detailing, evident through ironical situations like that of the Professor of Happiness is so beautifully captured,without any preaching. What makes Picoult stand out is that she lets her readers take a stand and not impose or carefully guide our perception about a problem.

Once again, great review. Keep writing.

Australian Online Bookshop said...

Picoult is a wonderful writer. Thanks for the great review. I'm going to give it a go.

thinkhappy said...

I love Jodi! Her books are heart wrenching but wonderful.

Will you take a chance and read a new writer's book? Megan's Way - just published July 19th - Readers are loving it!

sumanam said...

I love Jodi Picoult....I have read quiet a few hbooks of her and currently working on reading the rest.After reading your review this will be in my top of the list.Thanks for this grreat review.Loved your blog.Currently, Iam doing a review in my blog, of Jodi Picoult as an author,I would love to hear from you.Thanks.

Montgomery's Coconut Telegraph said...

Great review! I have only read one Picoult book but your review has inspired me to read another. Thanks!

Jessica W. said...

I absolutely agree that Picoult has a way with words. The first Picoult book that I read was "My Sister's Keeper", and after that, I went out and bought every one of her books. Another of my favourites is "The Pact".

"Handle With Care" sounds amazing. Looks like I have another book to add to my TBR pile for a "I just need to cry" day. XD

Great review!

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Man of la Books said...

Hi, I'm a new follower, I found your blog via BookBlog.

brandiheather said...

Hey! I really enjoyed reading your blog! I am an avid Jodi Picoult reader, and I recommend her to everyone! "Handle With Care" was definitely a hard read, but I find that with so many of Jodi's books I am able to walk away with a new understanding and appreciation of the disease (or like you said, the moral dilemma).

I can't wait to read more from you! Check out my blog as well!

Coop said...

it sounds good! my friend has it, Ill have to read it...

Talina Perkins said...

I liked the your review and agree with most of the posters here. Ms. Picoult is a very talented author and knows how to pull at your heart strings.

I am a new follower! I found you through BookBlogs

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Linda said...

Your review is excellent. I've read most of Picoult's books, but this one wasn't one of my favorites. I was never able to see the mother's point of view. Others by Picoult that I liked better were:
Plain Truth
My Sister's Keeper
Nineteen Minutes
House Rules

Steps To God's Wisdom said...

I have read "Still Alice" and this book, "Handle With Care" sounds as heartbreaking, but you have given it life's reality in your review. We all need those teaching helps in our lives and "Handle With Care" looks to be one of those moments.

weedbychoice said...

If this is as well written as "My Sister's Keeper" it will be a winner I'm sure.I do enjoy her style of writing , she obviously does her research which adds credibility to hr work.You did a great job on the interview..honest opinion of another author..kjforce

Amanda said...

As I was readin your review, and some of the things you said to describe Picoult's writing, I couldnt help but nodding my head up and down really fast, because I think you explained it perfectly.
Her books are such that the topics are not ones we should want to read about because they are so sad, but if you dont read them, you are missing out on, like you said, a birds-eye view of the controversial issues. I feel like, by the end of a book, she doesnt leave room for one to be closed minded. You learn things about the world that you never would have opened yourself to otherwise.
Can you tell I'm a HUGE Jodi Picoult fan?
Lol, Great review, cant wait to see what you review next!

Karen Wasylowski said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Excellent review! I was so taken with your review, that I just purchased it and downloaded it onto my KOBO e-Reader.

Thanks for a fantastic review!

Louise
BookBagLady
http://bookbaglady2.blogspot.com

So many books, so little time said...

Great review, I have this on my tbr. Think I will be bumping it up a bit :D

Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

Patricia said...

We tend to want to protect ourselves from the world. But we have to face the facts that it is not always the way we want it be.
Great review. Thanks!

Patricia aka Mamaw

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Eesti said...

This is absolutely one of the greatest novels ive ever read. I would recomend it to anyone and everyone... i read parts of this book at my office and found myself crying in parts and literally laughing out loud in others.

roll call the book said...

Awesome review. It looks like an incredible book to put on my reading list!

Kerry said...

I totally agree with you. Handle with care is a truly amazing book. It is so heartfelt and Jody Picoult just has a way of making you feel as though you are part of the story as appose to just an outside reading about it.
On the other hand she writes such sad and somewhat depressing stories it is hard to say that you loved the books because it takes you to such a sad place.
I'm just new to book blogging and came across your blog from your book review link page on book blogs. I have started following you and would love it if you could take a look at my blog booksinsidemybubble.blogspot.com.au
Thanks

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Cant beat a good book said...

I am a BIG fan of Jodi Piccoult, all of her books are so emotional and this one definitely caused me the most tears.
Brilliant review, I really enjoyed reading it and am now following your blog :)
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cleopatralovesbooks said...

I used to read all Jodi Picoult's books but some of the subjects she covers appeal more than others and they can be hard to read because you tend to sympathise with multiple viewpoints. This shows how talented she is at painting convincing characters. Great review - thank you for sharing.

Tanya Small said...

Great review! Despite the sadness, I'm definitely interested in reading this myself!

Dakota said...

Handle with Care is one of my favorite of Picoult's books (up there with House Rules and Between the Lines). This is an incredibly fair review of Handle with Care. Like you, I appreciate Picoult's ability to show both sides of a moral dilemma while showing neither one as right or wrong. She is able to write a well researched book and keep the intelligence of her writing at a very approachable and relatable level. I completely understand the difficult you have in rating it: you want everyone to read it but you wouldn't wish the heartbreak you experienced on anyone else.

Robin said...

Thank you for a great review.