"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!