Jodi Picoult's new bestseller explores the moral dilemmas faced by the parents of a severely disabled child. When faced with the reality of a child who will be disabled, at which point should an obstetrician counsel termination? Should a parent have the right to make that choice? And as a parent, how far would you go to take care of someone you love?
Willow O'Keefe is born with osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease, which means she will suffer hundreds of broken bones as she grows, and a lifetime of pain. As the family struggles to cover medical expenses, her mother Charlotte decides to file a wrongful birth lawsuit against her obstetrician for the compensation which might ensure a lifetime of care for Willow.
But it means that Charlotte has to say in a court of law that she would have terminated the pregnancy if she'd known about the disability in advance. And the obstetrician she's suing isn't just her physician - she's her best friend.
Handle with Care is an absorbing narrative which also questions the basis of medical ethics and of personal morality. What rights do parents or doctors have to terminate a life? How disabled is too disabled? As a parent, how far would you go to save someone you love?
About The Author
Jodi Picoult is the bestselling author of fifteen novels. She grew up in Long Island and then studied creative writing at Princeton. Following her graduation she had a series of jobs including as a technical writer for a Wall Street brokerage firm, as a copywriter at an ad agency, as an editor at a textbook publisher, and as an 8th grade English teacher - before entering Harvard to pursue a master's in education. She married Tim Van Leer, whom she had known at Princeton, and it was while she was pregnant with her first child that she wrote her first novel, Songs of the Humpback Whale. Jodi and Tim and their three children live in Hanover, New Hampshire with a dog, a rabbit, two Jersey calves, and the occasional Holstein.
In another issue-driven novel, Picoult (Change of Heart, 2008, etc.) explores the impact of "wrongful birth" litigation on an ordinary New Hampshire family.Charlotte O'Keefe, a prominent pastry chef, was thrilled when she conceived at age 38 without resorting to fertility treatments. Although she has a daughter, Amelia, by a previous relationship, she and her new husband, police officer Sean, wanted a child of their own. Charlotte's best friend Piper unwisely agrees to be her OB-GYN. Eighteen weeks into the pregnancy, during a routine ultrasound, Piper, looking for signs of possible Down syndrome, discounts the import of the fetus's unusually transparent cranium. At 27 weeks, another ultrasound reveals that Charlotte's daughter has sustained several fractures in utero, a sign that she suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), a rare congenital defect that causes brittle bones and severe complications (including scoliosis, respiratory problems and years of costly orthopedic interventions). Now age six, Willow, still toddler-sized, cannot walk, play or even turn over in bed without risking a compound fracture. Charlotte abandoned her career to care for Willow 24/7. Although Willow is precocious intellectually and for the most part a joy to be around, her illness is, inarguably, a drain on family finances and emotions. After a vacation at Disney World goes horribly awry, the O'Keefes spiral apart. Charlotte decides to file a wrongful-birth lawsuit against Piper. The proceeds from the lawsuit, she rationalizes, would provide the quality of lifetime care Willow needs, even if suing amounts to betrayal. Sean is appalled by the implications of the lawsuit: that Willow should never have been born, and that Charlotte, if properly cautioned, would have contemplated abortion. Amelia, once a normal teen, becomes a bulimic, self-mutilating shoplifter.Picoult's strengths are evident in her exhaustively researched and gut-wrenching demonstration of OI's devastating effects and the impact of a child's disability on a sibling. However, too often characterization takes a back seat to polemic. Worse, the central moral quandary is undermined by an overly pat resolution. (Kirkus Reviews)
Number Of Pages: 496
Published: 1st April 2009
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Dimensions (cm): 23.0 x 15.4 x 3.700
Weight (kg): 0.63