Sunday, March 24, 2013

Handle with Care (Jodi Picoult)

I recently finished reading Jodi Picoult's novel "Handle with Care."  This novel was about a young girl, Willow, who was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a rare genetic bone disorder that results in many bone breaks and fractures.  This disorder affects an individual for their entire lives and there is currently no cure.

Willow, though she is a very smart young girl, will always be small, will always have an unusually high risk of breaking bones, and will always require care or help from someone else.  Since Willow's mother, Charlotte, has been unable to work since Willow was born, her family is having a hard time covering the living costs for Willow, who constantly requires hospitalization, wheelchairs, and accessible vehicles.  After an incident while on vacation, a lawyer brings up the fact that, perhaps, Charlotte's doctor, Piper, should have been able to see early detection signs of OI in the fetus.  This early detection could have led to the termination of the pregnancy before any of these problems or costs became a problem for the family.  The book discusses the ups and downs of what occurs during this lawsuit.
When I was reading this book during my lunch break one day, another teacher walked in and asked what I was reading.  When she saw "Jodi Picoult," she said, "Those are always sad ones."  I must say that this book is no exception, since it does deal with such a serious subject.  Willow, though young, is smart enough to know that her mother is involved in a lawsuit where she is continuously saying that she wishes Willow hadn't been born.  I can only imagine how this would affect the home life in the O'Keefe's residence.  Charlotte's marriage is falling apart since her husband can't understand why his wife is putting their children and family through this experience, her friendships are ruined since she's suing her best friend (who also happened to be the doctor), and her other daughter, Amelia is also suffering as part of this torn household.  I always find that these kind of books require you to be in the mood to read something "deep." 

As with many of Jodi Picoult's novels, each chapter was written from the point of view of a different person.  One chapter would be from the point of view of the lawyer, whereas another chapter could be from the point of view of Willow's sister.  I find this helps the reader to get "in the heads" of the various characters in the book.  It's not centered on just the people directly involved in the lawsuit, but also on other people who are affected by it. 

Another thing I liked about this book was how it informs us about OI.  I always find books interesting when they are dealing with a medical condition that I know nothing about (kind of like how I enjoyed Left Neglected by Lisa Genova, and felt like I had learned a lot about Left Neglect while reading the book).  It's a great way to look into the lives of people who are dealing with different health challenges and raise awareness on these issues.  In this case, I had never heard of OI before reading the book, and I feel like I understand more about the challenges that face an individual with OI after having read it. 

I enjoyed reading this Jodi Picoult book.  It dealt with serious, real issues, and though I'm not sure that I would have handled things the same way as the characters in the book, it's fiction.  If you're a fan of Jodi Picoult books, this one won't let you down.

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