Saturday, March 7, 2009

Handle with Care

Handle With Care


Currently, I'm reading Jodi Picoult's new novel, Handle with Care. Coincidentally, I was able to actually place the book on "hold" while it was "in processing" at my local library. Thus, I'm the first to get my hands on it before so many other place holds on them. I'm almost halfway through the book, and as is Picoult's style, it is a very engaging read.

From Jodi Picoult's website, a brief synopsis of the book:

When Charlotte and Sean O’Keefe’s daughter, Willow, is born with severe Osteogenesis Imperfecta, they are devastated – she will suffer hundreds of broken bones as she grows, a lifetime of pain. As the family struggles to make ends meet to cover Willow’s medical expenses, Charlotte thinks she has found an answer. If she files a wrongful birth lawsuit against her ob/gyn for not telling her in advance that her child would be born severely disabled, the monetary payouts might ensure a lifetime of care for Willow. But it means that Charlotte has to get up in a court of law and say in public that she would have terminated the pregnancy if she’d known about the disability in advance – words that her husband can’t abide, that Willow will hear, and that Charlotte cannot reconcile. And the ob/gyn she’s suing isn’t just her physician – it’s her best friend.

Besides the story of their child with OI, another story is weaved with their other, adolescent daughter who struggles with not only her sister's illness but also issues of perfectionism, feeling of want by her mother, and simple attention as well. This time, this character turns to bulimia as well as cutting. I thought this was an interesting (though of course realistic too) decision to use the eating disorder as this character's way of coping. In other books, Picoult has used other destructive means like cutting, drugs, etc. But to my knowledge, this was the first she actually used an eating disorder. (I could be wrong on this since I have not read all of her books)

I was able to ask this question to her today in a live Q&A from the Washington Post Book World discussion. Kind of exciting! After her answer, it made more sense to me why she chose this means per se. I think a lot had to do with the fact that eating disorders are so secretive and because her mother was wrapped up taking care of the other daughter with OI, her other daughter's emotions, struggles, lack of coping well, flew under the radar.

I also asked if in the future she was going to use an eating disorder individual as a main plot line. I was holding out hope that maybe she would consider this as I'd be very interested to see how she developed the character. Sadly, she thought she probably would not any time soon. Oh well. However, if you're interested in autism, her next book's main character revolved around this diagnosis as well as being accused of murder.

Anyway, I'll give an opinion of the book once I'm finished if anyone is interested. If you haven't read her novels, I highly recommend them. She does a great job with in-depth characters, weaving different plot lines, discussing many issues revolved around families, and she always has a moral question in her books, often with a twist at the end. Some people find her books a bit predictable, and in a way they are once you know her style. Still, however, they make you think twice about how you would handle a certain situation. And any book that leaves me thinking more is a great read in my opinion.


Standing in the Rain said...

love her books! thanks for the heads-up on the new one. i'm putting my name on the hold list asap!

Cammy said...

I have only read one of her books, My Sister's Keeper, and I really enjoyed it, although I am not usually one for sentimental or sad plots. I thought she did a good job of balancing the tragic elements with humor and bring up extremely thought-provoking issues. I didn't know about this new one but I think I am going to buy it this week, it sounds interesting.

I am sort of glad to hear she's not doing a main plot on an ED sufferer soon, though...even when those issues are handled with the best of intentions, there is always someone that will twist it in their mind as something to imitate or "get ideas" from. Of course this must be balanced with the people that may recognize the issues in themselves for the first time after reading about it and then seek with anything, there is no black and white about the issue.

Thanks for the info about this book!

Tiger said...

Oooh! oooh! A NEW Jodi Picoult book????

Thanks for letting us know Tiptoe!

sounds like it'll be good...

Anonymous said...

Strange but I've never actually read one of her books, although I can see that changing. Having said that I have 7 or 8 in a pile waiting to be read first, so I should probably wait!

Lola x

Standing in the Rain said...

i started it tonight. had to go out and buy it. it's gonna be good, like stay up all night reading kind of good.

MelissaS said...

thank you for the recommendation. i've seen her books a million times but never picked one up. maybe i'll get this last one for my next biz trip.

bulimia is almost never used as a part of a plot. maybe never? if a book has an eating disorder, it's usually all about that eating disorder.

i vicariously enjoy all the lectures you attend. i used to live in new york and went to something almost every night. now that i live way out in the boonies, i don't have that option. thanks for keeping me in the loop!

Tiptoe said...

STIR, let me know what you think of the book. I'm trying hard not to skip to the end, because I know there will be a twist!

Cammy, I know what you're saying in regards to writing about EDs as a book focus. You're right, it isn't black or white. I was just really curious how she would have developed the character and what type of research she would have done.

Tiger, I think most of her new books come out the first week of March, so look for her next one then.

Lola, yes, you should see how you like the books. I also have a pile of books to read too and need to use my amazon gift certificate from Xmas at some point.

MelissaS, glad you enjoy the posts. I don't get to too many lectures as I used to in college, but I try to go when I can/something interesting comes up. I too live kind of in the boonies.