Things break all the time.
Day breaks, waves break, voices break.
Every expectant 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.
Everything changes, though, after a series of events forces Charlotte and her husband to confront the most serious what-ifs of all. What if Charlotte should have known earlier of Willow's illness? What if things could have been different? What if their beloved Willow had never been born? To do Willow justice, Charlotte must ask herself these questions and one more. What constitutes a valuable life?
Wow - since I read my first Jodi Picoult about three years ago I knew to expect a thought-provoking book. One thing I love about Ms. Picoult's novels is the fact that she brings interesting and controversial topics to light but doesn't tell you how to feel one way or the other about it, which is unusual in today's world. We all have our opinions and believe they are right. No doubt Ms. Picoult has her opinions too, but she chooses to bring all sides of a topic to light. Handle with Care is another great example of this. Making the wrongful birth lawsuit front and center and how it really makes different people feel. From the one who is being told that she shouldn't have been born (but that is a lie mommy is telling), to the sibling who is unintentionallly left behind in the dust of the lawsuit, to the marriage that takes second place at this point and to others it affects such as the doctor and best friend and the whole community of disabled people who essentially are told that their lives are not perfect and therefore not worth living. I think I have had the same thoughts as each of the characters and it really pointed out some things to me that I feel that are wrong in my own beliefs. It's definitely opened my eyes to several different things.
While the issue is a part of this book, but definitely not the whole. I felt like I truly got to know all the characters. I listened to this on audio and it was wonderful. They used different people for the different characters in the book who were writing to Willow at the time. The distinguing voices were a big help with listening. It was a true joy to listen to. The story never lagged for me, in fact I would find myself listening in the car a few extra minutes, carrying my mp3 player with me to listen when I could. The story moves forward at a good pace, the characters seem real and the story is just riveting.
This book is wonderful and heartbreaking and so much more. It is well worth the time it takes to read it (it's a large book) and I highly recommend it!
Published March 3rd 2009
Pages: 477 pages