I tend to consume a book in a single sitting, which has both positives and negatives. In highschool English I gobbled down the assigned novel in an evening and got out of a fortnight’s worth of homework. But oh the countless nights I’ve stayed up until sunlight started peaking in through the window, desperate to finish the final pages but exhausted for the day that followed.
Handle with Care, however, took me well over a week to read.
“When Charlotte and Sean O’Keefe’s daughter, Willow, is born with severe osteogenesis imperfecta, they are devastated – she will suffer hundreds of broken bones as she grows, a lifetime of pain. As the family struggles to make ends meet to cover Willow’s medical expenses, Charlotte thinks she has found an answer. If she files a wrongful birth lawsuit against her ob/gyn for not telling her in advance that her child would be born severely disabled, the monetary payouts might ensure a lifetime of care for Willow. But it means that Charlotte has to get up in a court of law and say in public that she would have terminated the pregnancy if she’d known about the disability in advance – words that her husband can’t abide, that Willow will hear, and that Charlotte cannot reconcile. And the ob/gyn she’s suing isn’t just her physician – it’s her best friend.” – Website Synopsis
The plot is challenging and emotional. Picoult tells the story from everyone’s point of view – a technique that adds incredible depth to a story if done well, or proves distracting if poorly crafted. In this case, she’s done it well.
By exploring everyone’s motives, their reactions, the way they see the world and the experiences that have shaped their perspective, Picoult has you torn, trying to reconcile seemingly irreconcilable positions. There was only so much of that I could take in one sitting though, hence the long drawn out read.
I was dissappointed with the final chapter, unfortunately the only chapter that is written from Willow’s perspective. The author adds one final twist, a cruel irony that is unneccesary and unrealistic, taking the story from a sad to downright depressing.
It’s not a book I liked, and it’s not a book I would read again anytime soon. But it has left an impression on me. I’ve been left questioning my perspective on a whole range of issues – motherhood, justice, disability, love, money and friendship – and I think that’s something I need to do more regularly.
A novel that is entertaining or enjoyable is always easier to pick up, easier to read, easier to recommend. But a novel that challenges you to take stock of the way you see the world is always worth the time and tears it takes to get through it.