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Handle with Care: A Novel Paperback – September 15, 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 981 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743296427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743296427
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (981 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Hardcover
Sloppy and predictable
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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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Format: Hardcover
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.
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