Book Review: Handle With Care

Things break all the time.
Day breaks, waves break, voices break.
Promises break.
Hearts break.

Every expecting parent will tell you that they don’t want a perfect baby, just a healthy one. Charlotte and Sean O’Keefe would have asked for a healthy baby, too, if they’d been given the choice. Instead, their lives are made up of sleepless nights, mounting bills, the pitying stares of “luckier” parents, and maybe worst of all, the what-ifs. What if their child had been born healthy? But it’s all worth it because Willow is, well, funny as it seems, perfect. She’s smart as a whip, on her way to being as pretty as her mother, kind, brave, and for a five-year-old an unexpectedly deep source of wisdom. Willow is Willow, in sickness and in health.


Title: Handle with Care

Author: Jodi Picoult

Published: 2009 by Atria Books  

Time it took me to read: 3/1 – 7/1

Rating: 4 out of 5


Charlotte and Sean O’Keefe have a beautiful daughter, Willow. She is smart and funny and, unfortunately, very sick. She was diagnosed with Osteogenesis Imperfecta before birth when seven broken bones could be seen on the ultrasound. OI, or brittle bone disease, means that all her life, Willow will have to deal with an extremely weak body that will never grow as it should. Not to mention the hundreds of broken bones that she will have to deal with in her life. Bump the coffetable? Broken bone. Twist the wrong way? Broken bone.

Besides the obvious emotional and physical strain that this places on the entire family, the financial strain is unbelievable and they are barely scraping by. That’s why Charlotte decides to sue her obstetrician for wrongful birth in the hopes that a settlement will give her enough money to ensure her family a financially secure life. But what will she sacrifice in order to get that money? Will it tear her family apart? And what does it do to Willow, hearing her mother say that she should never have been born? And what about Amelia, her older, healthy daughter? Oh and there’s one more problem.. that obstetrician whose life she’s destroying by suing? That was her best friend..


  Okay so I absolutely love Jodi Picoult. Some of her books (19 minutes especially) are my absolute favourite. So I expect a lot from her and I’m glad to say that I was not disappointed with this book. As soon as it starts, you’re thrown into this very difficult situation that’s hard on all parties. There’s the struggle with suing the best friend, and the strain of saying that Willow should never have been born will place on the family etc. And then as it progresses it only gets worse and worse for everyone.

What I like about Picoult’s books is that you are almost forced to think about what you would do in that situation. And that is somethings that I very much like while reading. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Picoult is not afraid to address the hard subjects, subjects that might scare away another author. That’s what makes her books so good. I can only imagine what kind of hate mail she gets on a regular basis. I admire her for it.

As for the story, it’s interesting and very well written. I liked the mom, Charlotte, in the beginning but as the story progressed I started to really dislike her. You get to experience the situation from the points of view of other characters. This is important because not only does it help you with seeing this horrible situation from different angles and minsets, but it also keeps it from getting boring, I think. I really enjoyed reading about Amelia the most.

Amelia is Charlotte’s first daughter, and because she is healthy, she gets kind of forgotten. She is spiraling into this dark hole of self-destruction and desperately needs someone to see her. But because Willow’s pain and troubles are more obvious, no one has time to really look at Amelia and see that something is wrong. I liked reading about her because I thought that it was unfair what was happening to her. One of the reasons why I started to dislike Charlotte.

I liked everything about this book.. Except for the ending. In almost all of Picoult’s books there has to be some big twist or reveal at the end, and the way she handled the ‘twist’ in this book was just bad. And it made me very angry. I was seriously like NOPE NOPE NOPE NOT HAPPENING. So I’m making the executive decision to ignore the last chapter and pretend that it never happened. Let me explain this in a little more detail. Don’t read if you care about spoilers.


Okay so they won the court case and got more than they had ever hoped for. Freaking $8,000,000. Basically they were set for life. And then in this whirlwind you’re told that 1) they haven’t cashed the check and are currently not using it, 2) Willow dies in a stupid freaking accident and 3) they BURY THE FREAKING CHECK ALONG WITH HER. Seriously what is wrong with these people?! I mean, that Willow died was unnecessary all on it’s own but the idea of Charlotte and Sean just throwing that money away was just beyond stupid. They know how much people with OI struggle. Was there not a good cause that could have used some of that money? Maybe they could have paid Amelia’s rehab with it. They could have done something. Eugh pisses me off.


It is because of this ending that I have rated this book 4 out of 5. Its so very good but the ending just bugged the hell out of me. It was seriously a good book if not for those few last pages. I really recommend you stop reading after the end of the trial. Just pretend it doesn’t exist. But even despite this f*ck-up ending I would definitely recommend this book to everyone who likes reading about real people and real, difficult situations. Jodi Picoult is awesome. Let’s leave it at that.


Author: EMK

Just blogging away in my free time while I try to make something of my life

One thought on “Book Review: Handle With Care”

  1. Hmph, I didn’t remember the bit about the cheque! Perhaps I was so horrified and emotionally distraught by the ending that I totally bypassed that bit. Or, maybe I have a bad memory. 😛
    I have to agree with you that I did not like Charlotte all that much, I was interested in her as a character because of how far she was willing to go and all the things she lost sight of, but when it reached a certain point I struggled to keep my temper. I also agree that Amelia’s story was also a brilliant addition!

    Great review as always, Emma. 🙂

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