Thursday, July 30, 2009

HANDLE WITH CARE by Jodi Picoult

Osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease, is at the center of Jodi Picoult's new book HANDLE WITH CARE.

Willow, the youngest daughter of Charlotte and Sean O'Keefe, is diagnosed with the disease before she was even born. The illness caused her bones to break so easily that she had fractures while still in utero. Willow is now six years old and suffers breaks almost too numerous to count.

Life is difficult for the O'Keefe family. Sean is a police officer and works hard to pay not only the family's regular expenses, but also those involved in the health care of his daughter. Charlotte, an experienced pastry chef, can no longer work because even when Willow is attending school, Charlotte must be on call in case a broken bone requires her attention or a frantic trip to the emergency room. Older daughter, Amelia, loves her sister and means well, but life isn't easy when everyone's attention is constantly focused on someone else.

After an interrupted vacation to Disney World which involved an accidental fall, a broken bone, and the unpleasant allegations of child abuse from an unfamiliar emergency room staff, the O'Keefe's decide to file a lawsuit. An attorney is quick to remind them that people were simply acting in the best interests of their daughter and they really don't have a case. However, after continued discussion he believes they may have another option - a lawsuit claiming medical malpractice against the Ob-Gyn and how she handled Charlotte's pregnancy with Willow. He claims they could sue for what he calls "wrongful birth."

HANDLE WITH CARE is told in alternating voices, and as the drama unfolds, readers get a peek into how this disease and its consequences affect each and every life. Emotions run from heartbreak to anger to fear to joy and laughter as everyone takes their turn to tell Willow's story.

Jodi Picoult's are incredibly popular with adult women readers, but I would highly recommend many of her titles to YA readers. For those not familiar with her work, HANDLE WITH CARE would be a great place to start.


twiga92 said...

I just finished this recently and thought it was a powerful look at how disability and illness can affect a family.

Ceska said...

I love Jodi's books, and this one did not disappoint. It was very informative about OI and she explored the difficulties that families encounter when there are disabilities involved. It was a sad story, which I was affected by as a mother for quite a while after finishing the book.