Hmm, I find this an odd question. After all, I never pick up books that I think I am going to dislike. When I walk into my local Waterstones I don’t rush over to a non-fiction book on Maths and think ‘You know what? I feel like mushing my brain into a pulp by reading something I don’t like today! Yaaaaaaaaayy!’ (Yes you are detecting a hint of sarcasm.) I mean, where would the fun be in that?! I know several of my readers enjoy my occasional sarcastic ranty reviews, but I never set out intending to write them. I like to pick books that I will enjoy if I can. 🙂 However, after searching around the deep dark cobwebby areas of my brain I’ve finally come up with a book that somewhat fits this question. (excluding Stephen King’s On Writing, which I already blabbered about).
A few years ago my mum received a book called The Pact by Jodi Picoult for her birthday. I had never heard of the author before but on reading the blurb I was curious. When no one was looking I sneakily read the first few pages. The novel started full force in the middle of the action, a young girl was being rushed to the hospital with her family and friends close behind distraught and confused. After such a fantastic opening I couldn’t just leave it there! So I ended up reading the book, whisking it away before my mum even got to touch it.. *Looks around guiltily.*
Having said that, by the half way point the book became a bit stagnant and eventually seemed to fizzle out altogether. So what started out as a gripping read became an utter letdown. The book follows a romance between two teens Emily and Chris, who’s families were close knit from the moment they were born. The two had grown up together and their friendship eventually blossomed into something more. So when Emily dies from a gunshot to the head and Chris is the only one with her that night, everything erupts into a mess of confusion and accusations turning the two families against each other. The story was interesting at first, but soon the focus became more on the court case which became increasingly boring.
So when I was bought a second hand copy of Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult I didn’t have overly positive expectations and I was worried I would be left with more disappointment. Luckily the worry turned out to be completely false!
Handle With Care centre’s around a family with a child named Willow who has osteogenesis imperfecta (also know as brittle bone disease, a condition which means a simple fall, twisting or reaching for something can become a life threatening situation causing a bone break). The stress of this condition takes its toll on the family, their other daughter Amelia feels ignored and irrelevant, Willow’s parents are stressed and drained from 24 hour care and the worry that something could go wrong at any minute, it even leads to a feud between the mother Charlotte and her long term best friend.
Although the prose are easy to read and fly by without much effort, this is not in any way a ‘light read’. It tackles illness, depression, self harm, marital breakdown, betrayal and controversial lawsuits. It is one of those books that gives you an emotional sucker punch to the gut. The amount of pain Willow goes through each year is excruciating and I honestly can’t imagine how someone could live with a serious brittle bone disease without going insane. Yet the character Willow deals with her situation in such a dignified, positive way and usually with a smile of her face too; it just broke my heart. Mental or physical illness unfortunately all too often has an impact on the rest of the family too. The other characters go through the burden of guilt, anger and the feeling of being trapped, and while this was painful to read I also felt it was realistic.
I felt like this was a well rounded, thoroughly researched, sensitive book and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a heart wrenching or thought provoking read!
Have you read any books over the years that you didn’t think you would like but ended up enjoying? Are you a fan of Jodi Picoult’s books? 🙂
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