25 Jul 2009
Finished three books this week - among them one I started some time back but didn't finish - Jodi Picoult's 'Handle with care." I didn't really want to finish it at first but took it back from the shelf and finally completed it last night. The thing about Picoult is that her books are never a "nice read". They make you feel too much, question you too much and days after finishing it, the questions and 'what ifs' still hound you. Her stories are great, but never comfortable. Well she affects me that way. This is the fourth Jodi Picoult I've read - the first being the one about a missing child who was stolen by her own father - Vanished. Handle With Care is about a family with a child who has a congenital bone disease,Osteoporosis Imperfecta or OI, which makes her bones very fragile and brittle. In fact her bones are so brittle they are breaking all the time - any sudden move on her part causes them to break. It is about a young family who suffer physically, emotionally and mentally trying to help their child; trying to give her as normal a childhood as she could have. On a trip to Disneyland, the child Willow falls. She's taken to the hospital and the doctors who view her x rays accuse the parents of deliberately harming her. Both parents are arrested on charges of child abuse because Willow is found to have dozens of broken bones - some of which are just healing while others have healed. Willow is taken into protective custody together with her older sister. Finally after weeks of fighting a system that is prejudiced and ignorant about OI, the family is reunited. The lawyer who handled the case told the parents that they could sue the hospital and her family doctor for not telling them before hand about the child's serious disabilities. BUt to have this lawsuit, they would have to admit that having Willow was a mistake. Even if the OKeefes had known about the child's disease would they have aborted the baby? What would be the 'right' thing to do? Should she kill the unborn child and deny her the right to live - even if that life is spent wholely on a hospital bed? The child, called Willow by her parents so that she could be as strong and as supple as the willow tree, is courageous, funny and intelligent. In this novel Picoult uses multiple voices to portray the different relationships in this family drama. It is engrossing and suspenseful. Picoult tells a very good tale - diving deep into the medical history of OI and weaving in a lawsuit in a story of family relationships and the caring of a sick child which can shatter even the bravest. The lawsuit brings out many things into the open. The question is will the young family survive all this? A book that I can recommend to all.