I’m a sucker for books that provoke thought and evoke strong emotions. That’s probably the reason I enjoyed this book as much as I did. I intentionally sought out this book after Grey’s Anatomy revealed April and Jackson’s baby had OI, and I saw tweet exchanges between Sarah Drew and Jodi Picoult. I’ve been a huge fan of Jodi Picoult since I was a teenager. This is actually the third Picoult book I’ve read this year (Lone Wolf and Between the Lines being the other two).
What’s so special about Handle with Care? I think it’s the fact that I found myself identifying with every single character at one point or another. Jodi has character development down to a science. It’s very rare that I’m so engaged that I want to read every word of a character’s point of view. Usually, there’s at least one character I find uninteresting and choose to skim over their part. That’s not the case in this book. Every character is engaging, every character is important, and every character touched me in one way or another as I read.
Charlotte and Sean O’Keefe aren’t all that different from most American couples. Charlotte was a baker for many years, and Sean is a police officer. Before she married Sean, Charlotte was a single mother to her daughter Amelia. My heart really went out to Amelia throughout the book. I’m glad Jodi included her point of view. She’s only twelve when the book starts, but she’s such a vital part to the story. She’s the sibling of a child with a profound disability.
Willow has Type III OI (Osteogenesis Imperfecta), which you may also know as brittle bone syndrome. She’s a very intelligent little girl. She is wise beyond her years, because she spends most of her time online and reading while her broken bones are mending. This book is largely told in second person, as if the characters are speaking right to Willow, often using word “you” to refer to her.
Throughout the book, readers join Charlotte, Sean, Amelia, and Willow on their journey. They also see the story through Marin, a lawyer who is searching for her birth mother, and Piper, the ob-gyn (and best friend) Charlotte is suing.
I found myself rooting for Charlotte and Sean as a couple, although I understood why they didn’t see eye to eye. At times I would become frustrated, usually with Charlotte. It’s clear that she loves her daughter, and there’s nothing she wouldn’t do for her — even if it means losing her best friend. The backlash she receives for her actions is understandable, and I understand the outrage others, specifically those in the disability community, felt toward her.
I think, in the end, her and Sean’s strong love for one another — even though they had very opposite views — is what conquered all.
The twist at the end literally broke my heart. I found myself reading and re-reading the end to ensure I was interpreting it right, and then when I realized I had, I was almost in tears screaming, “WTF!” The ending is poetic, if not ironic, but heartbreaking all the same.
A heartbreaking tale. Jodi Picoult never disappoints.
Even Sal enjoyed Handle with Care!