Thursday, June 4, 2009

Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult

Picoult tackles another tough topic in her latest offering. Charlotte and Sean O'Keefe, happily married, are trying to conceive a child. While they already have a daughter, Amelia, from a previous relationship of Charlotte's, they would like nothing more than to add another member to their family. Charlotte seeks out the assistance of her best friend, Piper, who also happens to be an Ob-Gyn. Despite her initial hesitancy, Piper agrees to treat her friend.

During an ultrasound in Charlotte's 27th week of pregnancy, Piper notices something alarming - the baby has multiple broken bones. She immediately refers Charlotte and Sean to a specialist, where they learn that their baby has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI,) or brittle bone disease, and may not even survive the birth experience. They choose to continue the pregnancy, and baby Willow makes it through the birth, developing into a smart - but fragile - little girl.

Through a chain of events that unfold, Charlotte gets it in her head that she would like to sue for wrongful birth, in an effort to gain some financial security for Willow's future. Of course, this will mean that she will be suing her best friend, as well as having to testify that Willow's birth was a mistake. Her decision is controversial, both in the community and within her own family, causing a rift with her husband, as well as contributing to Amelia's already problematic self-loathing.

I won't include any spoilers here, however this book reminded me alot of My Sister's Keeper, also written by Picoult. Handle With Care is told from multiple viewpoints, enabling the reader to get into each character's head and life in order to better comprehend their particular perspective. Each character's voice is as if they are speaking to Willow; yet the reader never hears from Willow herself. Picoult is as masterful as always with her storytelling abilities, and I found it difficult to put this one down. Have some tissues at hand and get ready to fall in love with Willow! If you have not read My Sister's Keeper, I would highly recommend that title as well.

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