Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult

Title/Author: Handle with Care / Jodi Picoult

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Pages: 548
ISBN 13: 978-0340979044
In a nutshell
Willow is born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta (commonly known as Brittle Bones disease) and her mom, Charloote, is offered a lifeline – to file a wrongful birth – suggesting that Sean and Charlotte (the mother) should have been made aware earlier on in her pregnancy that Willow suffered from this life-threatening condition. If they win the case, they’d receive a monetary payout which would secure Willow’s future. And the doctor Charlotte would be suing is her best friend, Piper.

What’s worse is filing for wrongful birth also means that if Charlotte had known in advance about the disability, she would have terminated the pregnancy, i.e. openly declaring it in court she would rather her daughter had never been born.

What I liked
As with the other Picoult’s books that I’ve read (My Sister’s Keeper, Nineteen Minutes), it’s thought-provoking. I liked the controversial issues that were brought up: the emotional conflicts; the grey area; the argument of what’s right and wrong (and if there’s such a thing?); friendship and love.

I hated (strong word, I know) Charlotte for doing what she did. To me, it’s outright selfish, it’s as though she wanted to satisfy her need to live up to HER expectations of being a good mom, without taking into consideration the other members of her family – her husband and daughter. And I thought, she should talk things through with Willow too, share Willow her thoughts and give Willow a chance to speak up, to be honest with her mom.

I was so clear of my stand, until I read this on Time.com. Here’s a gist of it:
‘So I took particular interest in Emily Rapp’s brave and agonizing essay published Monday on Slate in which she says she would have aborted her son, Ronan. Almost 2, Ronan has Tay-Sachs disease, a progressive genetic disorder that his mother believes will kill him sometime this year. It has already robbed him of his sight and left him paralyzed.

In a failure of modern medicine, Ronan’s condition was not detected prenatally; his mutation was too rare. But had Rapp known ahead of time that she would give birth to a beautiful, bright-eyed boy who would suffer daily seizures and be unable to move or swallow, she says she would have chosen to spare him — and her — the incredible pain. She would have ended her pregnancy “without question and without regret, although this would have been a different kind of loss to mourn and would by no means have been a cavalier or uncomplicated, heartless decision.” ‘

Heartless? Really? Would you want watch your child suffer? And if you have been told of the condition, and yet you decided against abortion, what kind of mother would that make you?

But then again, would Rapp say the same thing had she had not had Ronan? Would she wonder what Ronan would grow up to be? Did she make a wrong decision? Would she be able to live with it? Isn’t there always hope? Isn’t there always a teeny, weeny chance of survival? And who knows, this child would bring inspiration to the world, like Carly.

Everything happens, happens for a reason.

Questions. Conflicts. What would you do?

What I didn’t like
The repeated characters. This is very much like ‘My Sister’s Keeper’, except for the disease and lawsuit. The many different point of views, the going back and forth, were really exhausting. I think this book would have been at a better pace if it was shortened.
I’d end this review with my favourite quote:
“A dutiful mother is someone who follows every step her child makes…And a good mother is someone whose child wants to follow her.”
My verdict?
3/5 : An ‘ok’ read if you have not read her earlier books

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