I stopped reading Jodi Picoult for a while because her books can be so mean. Characters that don’t deserve to die always inevitably do. However, I thought I would give her a shot again, and once I finished this book, I was reminded why I stopped reading her.
Charlotte O’Keefe has two beautiful daughters, Amelia, from a previous relationship, and Willow, with her husband Sean. Willow is intelligent, funny and has a good spirit, despite the fact that she suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as OI or brittle bone syndrome. Willow can break a bone by simply sneezing or rolling over in her sleep. She has broken several bones in five years of life and will break many more in the future. Her special needs have caused a strain on her family, both financially and emotionally.
Charlotte and Sean decide to take the girls to Disney World for the first time. When they first arrive at the park, they stop at an old fashioned ice cream shop where Willow slips on a napkin, breaking several bones. At the ER, the medical staff discover old breaks and suspect child abuse. After Charolette and Sean are interrogated and everything is cleared with Willow’s doctor about her condition, the family return to New Hampshire without ever having their vacation.
Needless to say, Sean is furious at how his family was treated and he wants to sue Disney and the Orlando PD. Consultation with an attorney yields no assurance that they have a reasonable lawsuit; however, after examination of Charlotte’s medical records, the lawyers feel there is a strong case for another type of lawsuit: wrongful birth.
A wrongful birth suit suggests that Charlotte’s obstetrician, Piper, was negligent in reading the first sonogram and should have identified Willow’s OI earlier so that Charlotte could have had the choice to terminate the pregnancy. This lawsuit would require her to testify that had she known, she would have had an abortion.
Needless to say, the pending lawsuit takes a toll on their marriage and their family. Sean refuses to participate in the lawsuit and Amelia falls into a downward spiral of self-destruction. Oh, and by the way, did I mention that Piper, the defendant, is Charlotte’s best friend?
I have to give credit where credit is due, and Picoult is a master of her craft, making the reader dig deep into their soul to contemplate moral issues. The author has clearly done her homework, both in the legal and medical fields, making the plot both riveting and plausible.
It is not very often that I shed a tear over a book, but this one is simply heartbreaking. Trust me that you will fall in love with Willow and love her like she might be your own child. I am dying to talk to someone who has read this book, as there is so much more to say, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers! Please post a comment if you have read Handle With Care. I would love to hear others’ thoughts.