Book Review – Handle with Care

This is a book review for Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult, available here:

2* – disappointing

I’m quite new to Jodi Picoult. Although I’ve seen a couple of the films made from her books, I’ve actually only read two of them before now and I enjoyed them both. They were thought provoking and emotionally engaging so it was perhaps with expectations that were too high that I went into this book. It was really disappointing.

On the surface, it sounded like it should have been interesting – a woman who has a severely disabled child, which lives what anyone would describe as a grim life, sues her best friend, who happens to have been her ob-gyn, for not spotting the signs of the illness earlier and giving her the chance to abort the foetus.

Maybe I’m cynical, but the first warning for me was that the cover is pure literary “clickbait”. The cover has quotes on, such as “To save your daughter you must tell the world you wish she’d never been born” etc. I mean…come on. You can’t “save” a person with osteogenesis imperfecta. And the mother wasn’t “telling the world”, she was filing a law suit. There’s hyperbole and then there’s plain misleading and, sadly, I think this fell into the latter.

For me it set the whole tone for the book – it was like it was designed to be a misery-fest with the sole object of making the reader cry. I wasn’t invested in it enough to feel anything like what was intended and so I finished it with a disappointing sense of detachment. I think when a book is written purely for the emotional punch rather than the plot, it’s lost its way. The ending is a case in point – it serves no purpose other than to kick the invested reader when they’re already down. I think Picoult or her editors hoped that the readers would finish the book traumatised or something. I just don’t get this style of writing. You can write a book that’s emotionally harrowing and still absorbing.

The book did deal with some heavy issues and it did them with some finesse and that’s what I awarded the extra star for. It’s clear that Picoult researched the illness meticulously and I always applaud that. Amelia’s issues were handled well too, right up until the point her parents found out anyway.

I’m not sure that I would recommend this to anyone but I will persist with the remainder of the Picoult books that are on my TBR shelf.

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