Cover of Handle with Care: A Novel
This review was written 11 & 17/5/09
Synopsis (from amazon)
Everything breaks. Some things just hurt more than others.
Charlotte O’Keefe’s beautiful, much-longed-for, adored daughter Willow is born with osteogenesis imperfecta – a very severe form of brittle bone disease. If she slips on a crisp packet she could break both her legs, and spend six months in a half body cast. After years of caring for Willow, her family faces financial disaster. Then Charlotte is offered a lifeline. She could sue her obstetrician for wrongful birth – for not having diagnosed Willow’s condition early enough in the pregnancy to be able to abort the child. The payout could secure Willow’s future. But to get it would mean Charlotte suing her best friend. And standing up in court to declare that she would have prefered that Willow had never been born…
Before I even started this book I knew it could be one which I could connect with, and I’m glad I wasn’t wrong. When I was 7 I was diagnosed with osteoporosis, a disorder which is similar to osteogenisis imperfecta, in fact at points it had been proposed that this is what I have, although tests have said osteoporosis. My osteoporosis is nowhere near as bad as Willow’s but all the same I recognise some of the issues she has as my own problems, especially when I was younger. I can’t even remember my first break, or my second, one I got falling down a couple of stairs I was crawling up, the other falling off my parents bed. (highlight for spoiler) Somewhere about this time my parents were asked about child abuse, in a less blatent way than Willow’s parents, and it wasn’t until after that they found out the question they had been asked was one asked to parents who are suspected of child abuse. When I was just finishing my first year of primary school is the first break I can remember, I broke my femur falling off my scooter, I was in traction for the whole Summer holiday. I broke my leg again falling over on my crutches, then my ankle when my foot slipped off the foot rest on my pushchair while I was still recovering. After that I had no breaks until just before I joined here, in more normal circumstances this time, I was hit by a car. I had the same bisphosphonate treatment as Willow in my teens, which was rather successful. All the same I do fear things, I fear falling a little, I’ve never been skating, or learnt to ride a bike, I’m scared of heights, I hate ladders and am not always comfortable with stairs unless I already know them. I am better than I once was, I know that just falling is unlikely to harm me, although my recent break is somewhat of a set back. I have never pitied myself, it’s just the way I am, but this book has made me think about myself, and my illness (I say for want of a better word)
(highlight for spoiler) I never expected it to end this way. I don’t understand why. Why did Willow have to die, and in such a way? Was it so nobody really lost the court case? Seems extreme measures. I would like to think that at least it meant that Pippa and Charlotte, and Emma and Amelia became friends again.
For me I think this may be my new favourite Picoult book, not because it has the best plot, or is the most well written- both those are good but maybe not her best- but because it touched me personally. It didn’t make me cry but it did bring me close a few times (and generally books don’t even do that). Sometimes because of Willow herself, sometimes because I could see myself in her, and sometimes because it brought my own memories forward.
I adored Willow, she’s so brave, and somewhat unfazed, she doesn’t feel sorry for herself. Some of that people say I have but I don’t know if I could if I was as bad as Willow is. I really liked Amelia too (highlight for spoiler) in ways I felt more sorry for her than Willow because Willow’s pain was mainly physical, Amelia’s was psychological and in a way that is harder to get over
I liked how we always saw Willow through other people’s eyes. Except for the one chapter where Willow spoke.
(highlight for spoiler)I liked how Willow didn’t see the money as realy being hers so much as something that had brought her family back together. She didn’t so much care about what the money gave to her as that it made her family happy. This part made me close to tears at first because everything that had happened it didn’t really matter to Willow, she just wanted her family to be happy.
I also liked the recipes throughout the book, they made for something different.
Other people may not like this book as much, I am not sure, but I still think everyone will enjoy it.