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

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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 (894 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #495,495 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 58 people found the following review helpful By D. Reeves on September 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Sloppy and predictable
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173 of 205 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Brooks on March 19, 2009
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.
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84 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Bookreader on March 11, 2009
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.
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92 of 110 people found the following review helpful By E. Ketch on March 20, 2009
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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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Stacey A. Morrison on June 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Many reviewers have compared this latest novel to Picoult's earlier novel, My Sister's Keeper. Though I can see the resemblances in the novels, My Sister's Keeper is a far superior piece of work, in my opinion.

I have read all of Picoult's novels and have a few that I like more than others. This one is definately not one of my favorites. My opnion has less to do with writing style, as I do enjoy the way Jodi offers the story from the perspectives of several of her characters. I also don't have an issue as many others seemed to have with the fact that there are a lot of sub plots in this book. This, in my opinion, makes it that much more interesting.

My problem with this book is probably more of a biased opinion. I had a very had time "connecting" with the primary character in the book, Charlotte (the mom). As the mother of two children with special needs (one of which has a terminal condition), I found it very hard to be sympathetic with her battle to sue her doctor, and more importantly, best friend for "wrongful birth". She is suing not, necessarily because she feels she would have aborted her chronically ill child but because she feels the money would offer a better life for this child and would aid in paying off medical bills. I should also mention that I live in New Hampshire and am extremely familiar with the type of medical assistance available to families with disabled children and I found a lot of inconsistancies in the book as far as that goes. In my personal opinion, I just cannot fathom alienating my husband and best friend just to make a buck (or several million). In an effort to save her family, Charlotte all but destroys it and I simply don't get that.
I won't spoil the ending but suffice it to say it left me very dissapointed and feeling as though I just wasted my time reading this novel.
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