Every expectant parent will tell you that they don't want a perfect baby, just a healthy one. Charlotte and Sean O'Keefe would have asked for a healthy baby, too, if they'd been given the choice. Instead, their lives are made up of sleepless nights, mounting bills, the pitying stares of "luckier" parents, and maybe worst of all, the what-ifs. What if their child had been born healthy? But it's all worth it because Willow is, well, funny as it seems, perfect. She's smart as a whip, on her way to being as pretty as her mother, kind, brave, and for a five-year-old an unexpectedly deep source of wisdom. Willow is Willow, in sickness and in health.
Everything changes, though, after a series of events forces Charlotte and her husband to confront the most serious what-ifs of all. What if Charlotte should have known earlier of Willow's illness? What if things could have been different? What if their beloved Willow had never been born? To do Willow justice, Charlotte must ask herself these questions and one more. What constitutes a valuable life?
Emotionally riveting and profoundly moving, Handle with Care brings us into the heart of a family bound by an incredible burden, a desperate will to keep their ties from breaking, and, ultimately, a powerful capacity for love. Written with the grace and wisdom she's become famous for, beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult offers us an unforgettable novel about the fragility of life and the lengths we will go to protect it.
Perennial bestseller Picoult (Change of Heart) delivers another engrossing family drama, spiced with her trademark blend of medicine, law and love. Charlotte and Sean O'Keefe's daughter, Willow, was born with brittle bone disease, a condition that requires Charlotte to act as full-time caregiver and has strained their emotional and financial limits. Willow's teenaged half-sister, Amelia, suffers as well, overshadowed by Willow's needs and lost in her own adolescent turmoil. When Charlotte decides to sue for wrongful birth in order to obtain a settlement to ensure Willow's future, the already strained family begins to implode. Not only is the defendant Charlotte's longtime friend, but the case requires Charlotte and Sean to claim that had they known of Willow's condition, they would have terminated the pregnancy, a statement that strikes at the core of their faith and family. Picoult individualizes the alternating voices of the narrators more believably than she has previously, and weaves in subplots to underscore the themes of hope, regret, identity and family, leading up to her signature closing twists. (Mar.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Showing 1-10 of the 11 most recent reviews
1 . A heartbreaking Story
Posted October 25, 2010 by Iyke Otakpor , Calgary, AB, CanadaA good book to read. It portrays what parents of children with disabilities go through trying to cope and balance their daily lives. The story is very touching. I strongly recommend this book to students and practitioners of disabilities services.
2 . Excellent
Posted July 12, 2010 by Abby , Vancouver, BCI could not put this book down!!! (who wants to do cleaning and have dinner anyways!!!) Lots of twist and turns...looking at the subject from all angles. A powerful written book!!
3 . Heart Wrenching
Posted February 20, 2010 by D.R. , VirginiaAre you one of those people who cry, expecially over dramatic books? Simply put it, are you a sap? If not, you soon will be. No, seriously - I cried. Like, tears were streaming down my face. That's how emotional this book was. I don't cry - not usually. This book is an exception.
4 . All of Jodi Picoult's books are so wonderful.
Posted February 02, 2010 by Patty H , Granbury TexasThis is not my first book by Jodi Picoult. It certainly won't be my last. I liked all of the characters at the beginning but then later found myself questioning Charlotte and her actions. I don't think I could ever see her 'side' in the decisions she made. Willow had such heart and had such a beautiful spirit. This was an outstanding book. I cried many times over this book. I will keep reading Jodi Picoult's books. They are always a good read and she portrays people and families in a unique way that other writers don't. If you have never read anything by this author then you are missing out on a rare treat.
5 . Moving, really makes you think...
Posted January 22, 2010 by AMANDA , PLATTSBURGH, NYThis is the first book I've read by Jodi Picoult. However, it won't be my last! The twists and turns keep you turning pages, anxious to see what happens next. It really tests your ethics on how you would react to the same situation. And the ending?? Totally not what I expected!
6 . A Must Read for those new to Jodi Picoult's books as
Posted November 03, 2009 by Cheryl , Torontoher characters, as they grapple with contemporary issues, come to life and you will not regret reading this book. Others may find the writing formulaic and the plots predictable. This book was too similar to My Sister's Keeper to keep me fully engaged.
7 . Powerful story
Posted May 27, 2009 by jstaicsu , Fort Collins, COI am a big fan of Jodi Picoult. While this isn't one of my favorite Picoult novels, I did enjoy it. It left me questioning my own opinions and beliefs and was both heart-warming and devastating. A definite recommendation for other mothers...it will raise your eyebrows and leave you wondering what you would do in Charlotte's place.
8 . Very good, but....
Posted April 28, 2009 by Jenneil , Sioux FallsI purchased this book because I know someone with Osteogensis Imperfecta, and I have a rare bone syndrome myself. I have not completed book, but have enjoyed most of what I read thus far. I like the format of the characters writing a journal to, and about the little girl.
What I do not like, and it makes me cringe every time, is Jodi's use of old, and outdated terms to describe people with disabilities, such as "handicapped," or "wheelchair bound."
The time lines in the novel is the early to mid-2000's, and the more appropriate terms were well into circulation. The old terms are offensive to many people with disabilities.
Perhaps another character that I have not come across yet will "use" the more appropriate terms, such as "people with disabilities,"instead of "handicapped" or "she uses a wheelchair" instead of "wheelchair bound."
It is a good read though, and I would, recommend the novel to others, but would, and have, informed people that she used the old terms to describe the little girl, so that they can decide if they wish to read the book.
9 . Rare to enjoy a book this much
Posted April 07, 2009 by Tina , LethbridgeAlthough enjoy may not be the right word... this book infuriated me at times, and then also made me FEEL so much for the characters. When the book ended I actually missed them. Love how this story makes us question what we take for granted, and how we really can't judge someone until we've walked in their shoes.
10 . Heartwrenching
Posted March 31, 2009 by Kristin , OverseasThis was my first e-book read on the Sony Reader. I loved how the story was set up going back and forth between the characters. The story was sad yet intriguing. I'm not sure how I feel about the ending...bittersweet I guess. I recommend this book!
March 02, 2009
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Excerpt from Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult
February 14, 2002
Things break all the time. Glass, and dishes, and fingernails. Cars and contracts and potato chips. You can break a record, a horse, a dollar. You can break the ice. There are coffee breaks and lunch breaks and prison breaks. Day breaks, waves break, voices break. Chains can be broken. So can silence, and fever.
For the last two months of my pregnancy, I made lists of these things, in the hopes that it would make your birth easier.
On the night before you were born, I sat up in bed with something to add to my list. I rummaged in my nightstand for a pencil and paper, but Sean put his warm hand on my leg. Charlotte? he asked. Is everything okay?
Before I could answer, he pulled me into his arms, flush against him, and I fell asleep feeling safe, forgetting to write down what I had dreamed.
It wasn't until weeks later, when you were here, that I remembered what had awakened me that night: fault lines. These are the places where the earth breaks apart. These are the spots where earthquakes originate, where volcanoes are born. Or in other words: the world is crumbling under us; it's the solid ground beneath our feet that's an illusion.
* * *
You arrived during a storm that nobody had predicted. A nor'easter, the weathermen said later, a blizzard that was supposed to blow north into Canada instead of working its way into a frenzy and battering the coast of New England. The news broadcasts tossed aside their features on high school sweethearts who met up again in a nursing home and got remarried, on the celebrated history behind the candy heart, and instead began to run constant weather bulletins about the strength of the storm and the communities where ice had knocked out the power. Amelia was sitting at the kitchen table, cutting folded paper into valentines as I watched the snow blow in six-foot drifts against the glass slider. The television showed footage of cars sliding off the roads.
I squinted at the screen, at the flashing blues of the police cruiser that had pulled in behind the overturned vehicle, trying to see whether the officer in the driver's seat was Sean.
A sharp rap on the slider made me jump. "Mommy!" Amelia cried, startled, too.
I turned just in time to see a volley of hail strike a second time, creating a crack in the plate glass no bigger than my fingernail. As we watched, it spread into a web of splintered glass as big as my fist. "Daddy will fix it later," I said.
That was the moment when my water broke.
Amelia glanced down between my feet. "You had an accident."
I waddled to the phone, and when Sean didn't answer his cell, I called Dispatch. "This is Sean O'Keefe's wife," I said. "I'm in labor." The dispatcher said that he could send out an ambulance, but that it would probably take a while -- they were maxed out with motor vehicle accidents.
"That's okay," I said, remembering the long labor I'd had with your sister. "I've probably got a while."
Suddenly I doubled over with a contraction so strong that the phone fell out of my hand. I saw Amelia watching, her eyes wide. "I'm fine," I lied, smiling until my cheeks hurt. "The phone slipped." I reached for the receiver, and this time I called Piper, whom I trusted more than anyone in the world to rescue me.
"You can't be in labor," she said, even though she knew better -- she was not only my best friend but also my initial obstetrician. "The C-section's scheduled for Monday."
"I don't think the baby got the memo," I gasped, and I gritted my teeth against another contraction.
She didn't say what we were both thinking: that I could not have you naturally. "Where's Sean?"
"I...don't...kno -- -- oh, Piper!"
"Breathe," Piper said automatically, and I started to pant, ha-ha-hee-hee, the way she'd taught me. "I'll call Gianna and tell her we're on our way."
Gianna was Dr. Del Sol, the maternal-fetal-medicine OB who had stepped in just eight weeks ago at Piper's request. "We?"
"Were you planning on driving yourself?"
Fifteen minutes later, I had bribed away your sister's questions by settling her on the couch and turning on Blue's Clues. I sat next to her, wearing your father's winter coat, the only one that fit me now.
The first time I had gone into labor, I'd had a bag packed and waiting at the door. I'd had a birthing plan and a mix tape of music to play in the delivery room. I knew it would hurt, but the reward was this incredible prize: the child I'd waited months to meet. The first time I had gone into labor, I'd been so excited.
This time, I was petrified. You were safer inside me than you would be once you were out.
Just then the door burst open and Piper filled all the space with her assured voice and her bright pink parka. Her husband, Rob, trailed behind, carrying Emma, who was carrying a snowball. "Blue's Clues?" he said, settling down next to your sister. "You know, that's my absolute favorite show...after Jerry Springer."
Amelia. I hadn't even thought about who would watch her while I was at the hospital having you.
"How far apart?" Piper asked.
My contractions were coming every seven minutes. As another one rolled over me like a riptide, I grabbed the arm of the couch and counted to twenty. I focused on that crack in the glass door.
Trails of frost spiraled outward from its point of origin. It was beautiful and terrifying all at once.
Piper sat down beside me and held my hand. "Charlotte, it's going to be okay," she promised, and because I was a fool, I believed her.