I’m not very happy with Handle With Care because, you see, I’ve read this book before. Oh, I didn’t receive an advance review copy or illegal download it off the internet; I read this book, this story in an airport back in 2004. That book was inventive, not like anything I had ever read, and put me on my quest to read more of Picoult’s books, while this book made me angry, made me thankful I hadn’t purchased it.
The book I read five years ago was about two sisters, a mother who focused all of her attention on the sick child, a father caught in the middle, a lawyer who has his own problems, and a lawsuit to prevent a medical procedure. Handle With Care is about two sisters, a mother who focused all of her attention on a sick child, a father caught in the middle, a lawyer who has her own problems, and a lawsuit about medical malpractice/wrongful birth. This sick child has osteogenesis imperfecta, or more commonly known as brittle bone syndrome, while the sick child in My Sister’s Keeper had leukemia.
“I could say that I loved you and that I wanted to sue for wrongful birth and not contradict myself. It was a little like telling someone, after she’d seen the color green, to completely forget its existence. I could never erase the mark of your hand holding mine, or your voice in my ear. I couldn’t imagine life without you. If I’d never known you, the tale would be different; it would not be the story of you and me.” (pg. 339)
With the last Picoult book I read, I was noticing how formulaic her writing is, and here is becomes abundantly clearly, especially with the ending. Because unlike My Sister’s Keeper, this ending was completely and utterly out of place, instead of just out of place. And her usually device of telling the story through multiple viewpoints is also less successful in Handle With Care due to the use of recipes as commentary on the action, which interrupts the story’s flow and pacing.
I didn’t particularly like any of the characters besides the lawyer, Marin, who spends her time looking for her birth mother, and although I could semi-relate to the frustrations of eldest daughter, Amelia, her character was so over-developed she seemed out of place. She has her own problems, but they’re brushed side when Charlotte and Sean, two very stilted characters, decided to send her to a facility. The story is also told, until the last chapter as in My Sister’s Keeper, like all the characters are addressing Willow, and I found it repulsive that Charlotte would share her martial rape with her daughter. In addition, some of the details Picoult includes seem improbable — for example, the OI patients at the convention teaching one another how to ride the escalator in their wheelchairs.
Bottom line, Handle With Care is just a recycled, water-downed version of My Sister’s Keeper.
- Picoult, Jodi. Handle with Care. New York: Atria, 2009. Print. 477 pgs. ISBN: 9780743296410. Source: Library.