“Handle with care”
The novel “Handle with care” by Jodi Piccout, is a suspenseful, well written story which engages the reader through the depth brought about through the multiple points of view, as well as the touchy subject of medical ethics and personal choice. The story follows the life of Willow a five year old little girl whose life is plagued by a serious medical condition called osteogenesis, a condition which causes bones to break from the simplest tasks such as sneezing or walking.
I strongly disagree with Jodi Piccouts style of writing especially the way she chooses to finish her story by leaving it as a cliffhanger. While this technique can be very effective when done well such as in “Catching fire” by Suzanne Collins which left me desperately clamoring for more and over analyzing the last chapter to vividly imagine what happened next.” Handle with care’s” ending did the opposite and greatly infuriated me and seemed somewhat lazy, almost like Piccout had run out of ideas, as all the plot lines in the story had already came to a dissatisfactory end. This killed any chance of fulfilling the purpose of a cliff hanger, which is to allow the reader enough material to imagine a vivid scenario of what happens next.
Ending with Willow’s death annoyed me as the whole book was about her struggles living with osteogenesis imperfecta, and to have her die in such a meaningless way as drowning was sad and undeserving of such a strong resilient character who at times in her life when she had multiple broken bones still did everything in her power to protect her family. Such as when she fell out the car, rather than stressing her mother out who was already dealing with legal battles, she chose to keep quiet and put her own safety and well being at risk. This alone was an incredibly selfless thing for anyone of any age to do, let alone a five year old child.
I also had a problem with this ending as it is a common occurrence with many authors who chose to write about people disabilities. Rather than portraying disabled people as the strong, independent and capable members of society many of them are, writers often use them to create a shock factor by portraying them as weak, incapable beings whose only way of any sort of happiness and freedom is death. Such as in “Handle with care”, “Me before you” and numerous others. Not only is this annoying for all readers, it is soul destroying for young, or even old, people with disabilities who are lured into a false hope that they can relate to these characters, only to have that hope shattered when authors portray the message that people with disabilities don’t get a happy ending.
However despite this I would still definitely recommended this novel to year twelve students, as apart from the ending the novel is an incredible, well written story, which I thoroughly enjoyed.