george's Reviews > Handle with Care

Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult
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Mar 24, 2009

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bookshelves: grown-up-books, read-in-2009
Read in April, 2009

I have mixed feelings about Picoult's latest novel. On the one hand, I really enjoyed once again the introduction of a controversial topic in mainstream fiction and the presentation of all points of view. On the other hand...well, there are a lot of other hands. Yes, from what I can recall, this is too similar to My Sister's Keeper. The ending was completely unnecessary. The chapters--written as if they were letters to Willow--just didn't flow the way Picoult most likely intended. Not to mention that Picoult's writing has pretty much become formulaic. Then there were things that didn't really ring true to the characters (Sean not understanding why the law firm wouldn't take on his case, for one--hello, he's presented as quite level-headed and intelligent in the rest of the book. Yes, there's a lot of emotion, but even embarrassment is not an excuse for presenting him as dumb on just one page when the rest of the book never alluded to that. And that's just one example).

Then there's the character of Charlotte--I hated her; which was a good thing because it kept me engrossed in the book. I hated her because I cannot accept, or believe, that anyone would be stupid enough to believe that this lawsuit wouldn't change anything for the worse. I hated her because she is a great example of how our litigious, "I'm not to blame--she is" society operates. I loved (and hated) how easily she was entranced by the idea of a lawsuit that would destroy the life of at least one person she loved in order to make--in her mind--another's easier. I hated her single-minded determination to protect one daughter while ignoring another. But while I hated her, I had to admire her at the same time for her resilient strength and determination to follow through with what she believed was the only right thing to do.

I did like the book for the same reasons I generally like Picoult's books: the thought-provoking subject and introduction to a new issue that one might not have really thought about before (in this case, I had--but it did make me re-evaluate my position several times); the variety of characters and different points of view; good research; and an easy, quick read. Picoult still has what I love about her, but if I could give her one piece of advice it would be to SLOW DOWN. The quality of the books seem to degrade a little more with each one and my theory is that it's probably because she's pumping one out a year. It's worth a read and not a waste of time, but cannot be judged on the same level as her earlier books.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by alisonwonderland (last edited Apr 26, 2009 08:17PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

alisonwonderland it appears you felt the same way i did about this one. nicely stated review!


Lisaleh I agree with you that Jodi needs to slow down. If publishing one book a year means turning formulaic, I can wait longer between books.


Diane Couldn't agree more-it's not the first time i've been unsympathetic to her mother characters.


Isabelle I agree that her books have become formulaic. But at the same time I think she always has a valuable message to offer. I was initially struck by the depth of Charlottes character- friend to Piper, mother to Amelia and Willow, wife but then I just didn't like her. She seemed to justify everything she was doing by saying it was for Willow. But was it?? No. She was just being selfish and couldn't bear to lose her baby. Not that I blame her, but I feel like. More realistic character would have tried to save her child in a way that wouldn't have been so detrimental to their relationship.


message 5: by Halle (new)

Halle Russell I also had mixed feelings about this Picoult novel, because in comparison to her other books that I have read, this one seemed to fall flat at the end. I was engrossed in this book at the beginning because it started strong with a very captivating introduction. Picoult's writing style made me fall in love with Willow's character and made me think that Charlotte wasn't that horrible of a person because you could see how much she cared about Willow and her disease. When the lawsuit was introduced and Charlotte actually considered pursuing it, I immediately hated her character entirely, but like you said, it kept me reading. I couldn't understand how she could stand to turn her family against each other and against all of their friends just to receive a settlement for something that she was lying about completely. The end of the book made the entire novel pointless and it made me drastically change my feelings that I had at the beginning.


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