Saturday, March 21, 2009

Book Review: Handle With Care

Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult

"Being a parent wasn't just about bearing a child. It was about bearing witness to its life".

To what lengths are parents willing to go to provide for their children? Would parents really consider suing an OB who is also their best friend for "wrongful birth"? Is that something caring parents really could do? I believe so.

Having a child with a disability is a hard thing and when you reach rock bottom, be it financial, physical, or emotional when a rope ladder is lowered into your pit of despair how many of us wouldn't grab for that lifeline? Providing a better life is what we all want for our children. Sometimes however we forget to examine all the consequences of taking the first step up the ladder. We need to look around, because there also may be a tunnel out of the pit that will lead us to higher ground.

If you have read any of Ms Picoult's novels you know that her books are normally told from more than one point of view. This book is no different. This story, pulls strongly at a mothers heartstrings from the very beginning when we realize that one point of view is being told by a mother who is giving birth to a child that she knows is being born with not one broken bone but seven and by the time delivery would be complete there would be more breaks and more complications for her new baby daughter, Willow.

We also hear from the father who loves his family, all of them, his wife and both of his daughters. He views his job as protector and provider but doesn't want to allow himself to admit that due to his child's disability he really can't be effective at either. There are times, as I read his view point that I got the feeling he just didn't understand what was trying to be accomplished for Willow.

The older sister, Amelia also gets to give her point of view. She is the sister who feels helpless, unable to fix her sister in any way. She is also the one who really slips under the radar of the family. She goes through unnoticed. Ms. Picoult has done a wonderful job of showing how a sibling of a disabled child feels. They love their sibling but they also want to make things better and cant. They also want the time and attention that is lavished on the sibling. We see everything so clearly through Amelia, almost better than through mom or dad.

Piper is the OB and best friend of the mom, Charlotte. Her point of view has a feeling of loss, betrayal, and fear. I found myself feeling sorriest for Piper. Maybe that is because as an adult we can all relate to the loss and betrayal of a friend. Maybe not quiet in the same way but betrayal is betrayal. Through that betrayal we end up questioning everything we do from getting dressed to the type color of paint we may choose to repaint our kitchen. Piper is no different.

The lawyer, Marin who happens to be searching for her birth mom, is our last point of view. Here is a character that is struggling with the fact that she was unwanted and thus given away at birth and now must deal with the wrongful birth suit where parents are willing to say that they wish that their child had never been born. Unfortunately she is the only character that I felt I really didn't get drawn into. As a lawyer, her character was well done. Like any lawyer you don't always like what they have to tell you and Marin is no different.

It is amazing to me how a family can go in to see a lawyer for one thing and come out with a seed planted for a whole different garden that would change the way they would view their life. A garden that would bloom and encourage them to pick a fight. Each of them in their own way. I found myself having a difficult time putting down this book, always wanting to see what the next chapter/point of view would bring.

The outcome, like most Jodi Picoult books doesn't end the way you would expect it to, it has that Picoult twist that we have all come to love and expect. And once again I was caught of guard and didn't see it coming till the very end.


Anonymous said...

Sounds good to me! Can't wait to read it!


Nely said...

I recently read this and loved it. Great review.