Jodi Picoult, once again, demonstrates her precise ability to run towards a controversial subject, and peel back the flesh, forcing us to see what we otherwise would not, and forcing us to question whether we would handle the situation differently should we be faced with it. Handle With Care is the first of Picoult’s books that I read following a long absence, as I went through a phase of all-Picoult-all-the-time, which eventually became a little dark. In Handle, I found the author that I had so loved in My Sister’s Keeper. The fierce “what would you do”? The book centres on the O’Keefe Family, most particularly 5 year old Willow and her mother Charlotte. Willow was born with an extremely rare congenital disorder that causes her bones to be brittle to the point of glass. Sean and Charlotte live in constant fear of a “break”, something that will cause Willow unimaginable pain and anguish. Charlotte has spent five years as Willow’s advocate, and has done all that she can for her. She eventually finds herself at a line that should she cross, could mean immeasurable pain and emotional trauma to those she loves, but would potentially be doing the “right thing” by her child. Told in mulitiple first person point of views, wherein even the typeface changes as the voice changes, the reader sees the argument from every angle, and it becomes difficult to see which side is more right. If you are a fan of Picoult’s writing, this is one of her must read novels. As is the case with such novels, the melodrama is high, but I feel that in Handle, Picoult manages to play the line and writes it on the side of high tension, rather than sadness. One of the more interesting parts of the novel are the recipes for extremely delicate desserts inserted at intervals throughout, reminding the reader that not only is Willow in a delicate state, but the O’Keefes, as a family, are as tender and breakable as a soufflé. It is definitely a long read, at 648 pages, but this should not deter the reader, as it passes quickly.
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