Handle with care

These last few days I’ve tended to bury my head in a book to try and escape the bitter cold outside. Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult is the type of read that her fans have grown to expect and love. She may not always please her readers, but she certainly makes us all think about hard questions in ethics, legality and relationships.

This book is no real surprise, however I should remind you that Picoult’s endings invariably have a twist. The topic chosen is of a family with a young child coping with osteogenesis imperfecta – or brittle bone disease. The subject is handled in gruelling detail through the eyes of several of the main characters. Basically, the medical bills and sheer stress are crippling the family and they decide to embark on a lawsuit for wrongful birth against the consulting obstetrician who failed to diagnose the medical condition until the 27th week of pregnancy. Their premis is that given the choice early enough and knowing the tragic facts, they would have terminated the pregnancy. To make matters even more difficult, the obstetrician is the best friend of the mother.

Enough? Because that is only the bare outline of the story. There are several conflicting strands that pull at the heart strings. I enjoy these books – if that is the right word…….. it is more about becoming involved in the stories and being compelled to read on until all is clear. I don’t want to put in any more spoilers than that.

It is true to say that Jodi Picoult has found a formula that works and she is sticking with it. One writing device she employs is to punctuate sections of the narrative with a contrasting yet strangely parallel offering, of something totally different, to give a break in the tension and to help the reader enter into the dynamics of the story even more. In this case it is about cooking. She doesn’t give a recipe for yogurt cake (!) but I understand how baking can become an antidote or coping mechanism for stress.

Marks? I’m only going to give it an 8 out of 10, however, I am prepared to be convinced to raise it. Have you read it? I’d be interested in reactions please.

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7 Responses to Handle with care

  1. Lyn says:

    Sounds interesting enough that I will add it to my list of reads. I already have over 500 in my Kindle (!) but I’ll get to it eventually!!!

  2. Anne Gibert says:

    I don’t think it would do for me. My reading is sadly escapist, and I have the habit (drives my literary children crazy) of reading the end first because I don’t like unpleasant surprises. I have been trying to read “The Inheritance of Loss” because it got such wonderful reviews. I am finding it rough going. Even the parts that are supposed to be funny seem tinged with cruelty and degradation.

  3. Picoult’s writing approach sounds a bit like that used in “The Nine Tailors” with bell rining or “The Shipping News” with knot tying. Very interesting.

  4. Sheila says:

    I got one of her other books for Christmas…”House Rules.” I am not too far into into it but I do see parallels with the one you are reading already. I read one of her other books a while ago; I think it was Salem Falls. I enjoyed it at the time but it wasn’t memorable. (could be my memory!) I sometimes have trouble with books about people’s tragedies but it just depends on my frame of mind. Sometimes I love them. I just finished reading a hilarious book by Nora Ephron called “I Hate My Neck.” If you are looking for a good belly laugh you should try it. She has been involved with movies, “When Harry Met Sally”, “Sleepless in Seattle”, “Silkwood” and “Micheal” to name a few. Wow! I see no similarity to Jodi Picoult’s books and “Shipping News.” May have to revisit that one.

  5. LC says:

    Alas, I am with Anne Gibert.

  6. friko says:

    She does not sound like someone I would enjoy. I don’t need pure escapism (when I do I read thrillers of the psychological kind), but undiluted misery with twisted ends is not for me. Life is never undiluted either, I like uncontrived stories.
    Waiting on my shelves are Richard Russo, Anne Enright, W.G. Sebald, Lorrie Moore,
    Iain Banks, Barbara Kingsolver, Michelle Roberts, Hilary Mantel, Markus Zusak, and many more. I won’t be enjoying them all equally, of course.

    I love the Swedes when it comes to crime, there is something so bleak about their mental and physical landscapes. Being a melancholy type myself, that speaks to me.

    As does Sebald. I can drown in him.

    Because of my creative writing course I have been taken into the world of short story writers and am currently exploring Carver and many of the classic writers.

  7. Thanks for an interesting set of replies. I suspect I like to read for escape sometimes and for learning something new at others. You’re right about Picoult tending towards the bleak side of life, Friko, so I might follow Sheila’s advice and head for some laughter. The trouble is that I often don’t “get” books that others love – eg Terry Pratchitt. Anyway, thanks for all the suggestions for authors to look out for. I’ve added them to my list. (That’s the one I assail Neil, the Library Van driver with each month!)

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