Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult

I have only read one other Jodi Picoult book, years ago, and honestly don't remember which one it was. I liked the book and her writing style but didn't care for the sex and profanity in it. This one didn't have too much sex but still had problems with profanity.
Sean and Charlotte desperately want to have a baby. They have one daughter, Charlotte's from a previous relationship, and really want to have one together. After trying for several months, they are thrilled to find out that they are expecting, only to discover that their baby has OI, osteogenesis imperfecta, or the brittle bone disease. Even in utero the baby has broken several bones.
Fast forward several years. Willow is a precocious 6 year old who has broken 60-something bones already in her lifetime. After another break that occurs at Disney World and traumatizes the family when abuse is suspected, Charlotte decides to sue for wrongful birth. The fact that her obstetrician is her best friend doesn't deter her nor does the fact that Willow thinks that her mother would have aborted her if she had known about her disease early enough in the pregnanacy. Charlotte is in it for the money, the family is barely making ends meet with all of Willow's medical expenses. The lawsuit tears the family apart but Charlotte forges ahead anyway.
I found it to be a compelling book and could hardly put it down despite its weaknesses and inconsistencies. There are the aforementioned language issues, mostly when written in Sean's voice, and the foreshadowing throughout the book of the ending, which ended up being a cop-out. Picoult knows how to write about people's failings and the effects of life's trials on individuals and families, although I really didn't get Charlotte at all. I don't see how she could pursue the lawsuit while watching her family fall apart, and she didn't seem to see Amelia's problems at all. Rated R for language.

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