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One of Jodi Picoult's best works
on March 6, 2015
Six-year-old Willow has osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), brittle bone disease. She's broken over 50 bones, sometimes just by sneezing. Charlotte, her overprotective mother, is always at her side. Her father, Sean, works overtime to buy Willow's medical supplies and her mounting expenses. Troubled twelve-year-old Amelia, rounds out the family. Charlotte decides to sue her obgyn and best friend Piper for not noticing the OI in an earlier, essentially saying she would have aborted her beloved Willow, all of their lives are thrown into irreparable turmoil.
Amelia and the adult characters were richly layered with nuanced traits that probably make some readers love them, and others want to strangle them. Instead of finding Charlotte sympathetic, I saw her as myopic, overprotective to Willow, neglectful to Amelia, selfish, stubborn, and a lousy friend and partner. I liked the other characters and felt most sympathetic to Amelia and Piper. Willow seemed flat, the sick girl with a great attitude who everyone loved. All of the characters, except for Willow, were believable.
Veteran novelist Jodi Picoult told the story in second person "you", who was Willow. Charlotte, Sean, Piper, Amelia, Maris (the attorney) all had sections with their first person POVs. Even Willow had a chapter at the end. Picoult did a great job staying in the "you" POV, though the first person voices all sounded the same. And there was an added bonus; Charlotte, a pastry chef, had recipes of the treats she baked weaved in through the chapters. There's also a twist I hadn't anticipated.
The story was very engaging and evenly paced. I finished reading in a day, although the book has over 400 pages. I loved the moral/ethical dilemma, it made me think about how I would feel in each person's shoes, even Charlotte, who I disliked.
Readers who enjoy women's fiction, stories of family, friendship or medical dramas will be drawn to HANDLE WITH CARE. It's one of Picoult's best works.