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Handle with Care: A Novel Hardcover – March 3, 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 947 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Sure, Jodi Picoult can be formulaic, but few critics seemed to mind her well-researched, domestic-and-legal-drama-told-through-multiple-viewpoints framework for Handle With Care. Except for the Boston Globe, which noted that "the construct feels a little tired and trepid, creating more distance than illumination," reviewers embraced Picoult's latest offering. Told primarily through the voices of Willow's mother, her father, her adolescent sister, the obstetrician, and a lawyer, the novel wrenched readers' hearts as it examines motherhood, family, and disability. The bonus? Charlotte, a renowned pastry chef, adds a little sweetness to the family tragedy by interspersing her dessert recipes throughout the novel.
Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; First Edition edition (March 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743296419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743296410
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (947 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #347,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-two novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers "The Storyteller," "Lone Wolf," "Between the Lines," "Sing You Home," "House Rules," "Handle with Care," "Change of Heart," "Nineteen Minutes," and "My Sister's Keeper." She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Sloppy and predictable
4 Comments 53 of 59 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
I've read ALL of Jodi Picoult's books. Some of my favorites are Perfect Match, My Sister's Keeper, and The Pact. Compared to those books, her latest release, Handle with Care, is contrived, sloppy, boring, and disappointing. Oh, and too many points of view included. I almost laughed at the ending because I honestly didn't think the book could have ended with more of a cop-out.

It doesn't seem like the publishers bothered copyediting or proofreading this book. Kitty Litter should not be capitalized. I don't care how "mature" a 6 year old is, she would create a Gmail account. And, Jodi, please spare me the gratuitous references to Facebook. These are just a few things I can think of off the top of my head -- there were many more.

Perhaps releasing one book a year is too much for Jodi Picoult, because the product is suffering. Her stories used to be contemporary, heart-wrenching and full of plot twists.

Handle with Care is simply a regurgitation of lawyers, sisters with issues, second marriages, etc. With some bulimia and cutting thrown in and not really addressed. Not to mention the recipes. What was the point of those? Charlotte's career as a pastry chef seems conveniently trendy and never becomes anything more than that, except for the lame recipes scattered throughout the book. It's like Jodi's editors and marketing team sat around a table and came up with every single thing they could incorporate into this book and then threw each thing in, none of which were successful.

I'm glad I got this from the library instead of purchasing it. What a disappointment. Don't bother.
34 Comments 176 of 209 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
I really love Jodi Picoult's books. I find she tackles very tough subjects in a captivating and stimulating manner. She takes chances on subjects that other authors just gloss over too afraid to really speculate about the feelings of the participants. If you were the mother of a child that was bullied or was the bully, "Nineteen Minutes" was your worst nightmare. So believable.

I found "Handle With Care" engrossing. I have a child with limited handicaps and I felt for Willow with every breath. But for me this was one more trial, one more heart-wrenching child, one more set of confused and inarticulate parents, one more lawyer with "issues" and one more manipulated ending too many. I can't tell you how very disappointed I was with this book. Lots of meringue but the filling was not fresh.
7 Comments 86 of 101 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
I have enjoyed Jodi Picoult's books since the very early days in the 90s, and I have to say that although they were getting better and better, she definitely plateaued around Nineteen Minutes and has now begun the downward spiral. I should add that I am also a high school English teacher, so I deal with a fair amount of books in my spare time. This book was written so similarly to My Sister's Keeper that I had a pretty good feeling on what the ending was going to be near the beginning of the book, and I was right.

Warning: mild spoiler to follow.

Like her book last year, Change of Heart, this book just seems to follow a formula she's gotten too comfortable with in her last few novels: a child with a medical issue, parents with personal issues, and an angsty lawyer with a long backstory.

Probably the worst part of this book and Picoult's recent novels is her tendency to dive into these awful comparisons. She describes characters with breath that smells of coffee and regret, and cookies that are baked with a special ingredient: the ingredient of remorse. The characters are constantly looking at or holding on to something physical, then realizing what they are really looking at/holding is a feeling: sympathy, love, grief, etc. Give me a break. I could handle these once every few chapters, but there is literally one of these every few pages. Is someone ghostwriting this stuff in?

As a mother, I found the character of Charlotte to be completely unbelievable. Throughout the novel, she recognizes the fact that filing a wrongful birth lawsuit may destroy her daughter's image of her and of herself, but all she cares about is money, even when they never previously struggled with money.
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13 Comments 92 of 112 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
but all the care in the world cannot save the people we love necessarily.

I had this book delivered to my kindle the day it was released and read it straight through.

I'll tell you right up front I am a Jodi Picoult fan. Easy, entertaining reads- great for bathtubs and airports and right before bed. Some of her books have been less entertaining than others but I always find I enjoy the way she paints such a realistic portrait of her characters. I really do feel for them.

This story, as you'll read in other reviews and the synopsis, is about a family dealing with their youngest daughter's affliction with osteogenesis imperfecta which causes brittle and easily broken bones. Willow, so named by her mother who wanted to give her a legacy of something that would bend and not break despite her husband's protestation that willows weep- here Picoult gives such a combination of foreshadowing because Willow turns out to be an amazing, strong little character with such a love and longing for all the amazing things in the world.

The story goes far beyond a girl or her family coping with a debilitating disease. Not unlike in "My Sister's Keeper", Picoult shines light on the relationship of two siblings... one 'normal' and the other 'broken' and the center of attention, 'handled with care'. The braid that exists between sisters of jealousy and love and connection. She also hits home with poignant moments that so many of us can relate to, for example when Amelia(the elder daughter) says, " "Yes," I said, the lie coming easily, reminding me that, even as much as I hated her right now, I was my mother's daughter.
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