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on March 19, 2009
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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on March 11, 2009
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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on September 9, 2009
Sloppy and predictable
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on March 20, 2009
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.

Additionally, for kicks, there is a teenage sister who is thrown in, and of course she has her teenage problems. But she has not just a few problems, but all problems: bulimia, self-mutilation, depression, blue hair. And she develops them all at once. And no one cares, and they're never really resolved.

The whole book was just very disappointing. I think Picoult needs to up her game if she plans to keep her readers. Ditch the angsty lawyer and the horrible comparisons on the feelings. And if you're a reader, take it out of the library and be thankful you can be done with it for good in three weeks. I barely made it through.
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VINE VOICEon March 9, 2009
Part of me wants to rate this novel lower, but the other part was really entertained for MOST of the book. So I'm averaging my warring sides and giving this novel 3 stars.

The issue of whether or not parents should be made aware of disabilities discovered while their child is in utero, so that a decision about whether or not to terminate the pregnancy can be made, is very poignant to today's science and ethics debates. The added hook of bringing in an attorney for the disabled girl's parents who was adopted helped to clarify some of the gray edges that were all over the place in this story.

The other sideline tale of Amelia, sister to Willow (the disabled child at the crux of the controversy within this story), really pulled at my heartstrings. I feel this girl, more than anyone else, felt the turmoil that resulted from having a disabled family member and a family falling apart around her.

Those are the things I liked about the story. Here's what irked me:
1. The resolution of Amelia's story came too easily. I think it sold her short.

2. I actually started a tally sheet about halfway through the novel to track how many times the phrase "catch-22" was used. Can we say overkill?

3. The diary-entry style of writing, from the characters points of view to Willow, made it really easy to pick out the ending.

4. As some others have pointed out in their reviews, this story was nearly IDENTICAL to "My Sister's Keeper" and the conclusion only confirmed what I'd been thinking for most of the story. It really felt like a cop out and Jodi Picoult is a better writer than that.

Like I said at the beginning, I was entertained for the majority of this story. The ending is really what killed it for me and I'm very disappointed because I wanted it to be a "slam-bang" finish from an author I've come to really love.

Read this story (perhaps on loan from the library?), because the issues are important and the characters in this story are very well-developed and sympathetic. But, read it with a grain of salt because if you're expecting something remarkable at the conclusion you won't find it.
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on June 1, 2009
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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on September 16, 2009
Let me be clear, I love Jodi Picoult books - 19 Minutes, The Pact, My Sisters Keeper (even though the movie ruined it) - but this book -Handle With Care, was dead from the beginning. I made it to page around 200 and struggled reading it. Usually, I am through her books quickly - anxiously waiting for the chapter. Finally, I checked Amazon, and called a few friends that had this book - none of them finished it either.

Don't discount Jodi Picoult as an excellent author, just pass by this book - the others are 100% better.

Full disclosure, I didn't finish it, I just couldn't get into it. PS: Not sure what those recipes were for, with the exception Charlotte was a pastry chef - just was a very disappointing book. Not your typical Jodi Picoult work.
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on April 22, 2009
I'm an avid Picoult fan, but this was a huge disappointment. I found the premise faulty and the protagonist a woman I couldn't find much to like about.
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on May 13, 2009
My main problem with this book was with the wrongful birth topic. Charlotte DID find out her daughter had OI while pregnant. She COULD have had an abortion then. The story would have made more sense if there was not another ultra sound after the one at 18 weeks and they wouldn't have known until birth that the baby had OI. Marin's argument and the jury's decision seemed as if Piper caused the baby's disability. It seems unlikely to me that any jury would award damages to this couple in this situation. The whole premise seems unrealistic.
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VINE VOICEon July 11, 2009
Caution: Do not read this book after you've read My Sister's Keeper. It will set you up for a huge let down. I really enjoyed My Sister's Keeper; the first book of Picoult's I've read in years. I had taken a break from her because I was finding the plots and sub-plots very predictable. The Picoult Formula seemed to get boring fast. So after reading My Sister's Keeper after a 5 year hiatus, and loving it, thought why not go ahead and read her latest? It covers an interesting topic- wrongful birth- and people were talking about it.

So, here's my take on this book: it's just so-so. The characters were not all that compelling, with Amelia being the exception. Charlotte, the wife/mother, just didn't evoke enough empathy, disgust, or other feeling in me. Sean, the husband/dad, was annoyingly macho. And Willow, the little girl in which the entire book is about, just didn't seem real. I frequently flipped back and forth on whether I was enjoying this book; wondering half way through if it was worth the almost 500 pages. It did make for good bedtime reading as I find Picoult's style easy to breeze through. And ultimately I did finish it, and was highly disappointed.
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