Book Review (#27): Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult

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I’ve heard about this book about a year ago, even before I read My Sister’s Keeper, from a trusty friend who’s read it in Portuguese and it made her cry and I’ve had the book for a while. Therefore, I had very high expectations, and maybe that’s the problem? Actually no, I think that my expectation system was not the issue with this book. And it’s not that I didn’t like it. I raced through it like I haven’t through any other book in months. Partly because I wanted to know what will happen and partly because I was procrastinating some studies. Anyway, there was more to this book than what let me down, so let’s get on to that.

night circus

When one is in med school, one craves things that aren’t too closely related to the things one studies, and this book is exactly the opposite of that. It’s centered about a severe medical condition –as are most of Picoult’s books– and this is one of the reasons I turn to her book. Or used to anyway. Now I hear ‘medicine’ and I run in the other direction. I think Jodi Picoult is very capable of coming up with the most complex of situations and then write about them. Even though I have some problems with her technique of delivery and how it never changes, she does a pretty good job showing every angle of the situation.

This plotline was quite a tough one, touching a very interesting and questionable subject. It tells a story about a little girl with a severe medical condition and how her mother sues the obstetrician, who is also the mother’s best friend, for malpractice.

If I try to tackle the characters of a Jodi Picoult novel, the review would never end, since the story is usually told from the point of view of 5 characters or so. But I think I must tackle the main character –the mother. She was my biggest obstacle and I hated her with a grieving passion. I tried to sympathise with her and believe that she was doing this for a good cause, but I couldn’t. And I think this is the reason I wasn’t too affected as I read the novel. Sure, I was interested to follow the sequences of events, but was I touched? Did I cry? No. I just really enjoyed how it made me think about this whole “how badly disfigured should a child be for the pregnancy to be terminated?” thing.

As always, I like the underdog in the story, the sibling who just has to bear with not being the priority. Her chapters were my absolute favourite and I cared a lot more about what happened to her than I did about everything else happening around her.

My favourite part of the story was actually the beginning –like, the very first chapter– and the end. I probably should’ve noticed the foreshadowing in those first few pages and expected that we’d make a full circle back to it. It was absolutely beautifully written, and I liked how it ended. I didn’t cry, but I quite admired how it’s crafted.

I also believe that Picoult should be commended for the amount of research she puts into each book to make things believable. I mean, she picks really complicated medical conditions and she makes it all sound so real by the amount of information she provides about it. What’s important, too, is how she doesn’t make it all about the disease; that you still get to read a novel without feeling as though you’re going through a medical journal –trust me, I know how that feels. The same goes for the law-related bits. With my meek knowledge of law, half of her stories should go right over my head. But I do get most of what she tries to deliver, and that means she’s really good with presenting the information she gathers.

My problem with Jodi Picoult is that now that I’ve read several of her books, I know what to expect –and not in a good a way. Every book feels as though it’s following the same template that I sometimes confuse characters and plotlines. I felt this book was much longer than it really should have been and that’s why I don’t have much to say about it. It was good, but not great. I enjoyed it but I was not emotionally involved, but isn’t that the point of books like this one? I don’t think I’ll be going for any other Jodi Picoult books. There is that one she’s written with her daughter that sounds interesting and I might pick up at some point. If you’ve read that one, do let me know what you think of it and if I should go for it.

But for now, farewell Jodi Picoult.

I’ve read several books these past few weeks and I’ll be trying to put reviews of all them over the next few days. But it’s midyear exams season, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to. I’ll try my best though.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review (#27): Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult

  1. If you ever want to give Jodi Picoult another go, you could try reading House Rules. It is the only book of hers that I have ever read, and it wasn’t too bad.

    • Hmm… I haven’t heard of that one, but I’ll definitely check it out on Goodreads. I really believe Jodi Picoult is a good writer, but I’m just a bit tired of how she structures her novels. 🙂

      Thanks for the comment and the recommendation!

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