Handle With CareBook - 2009
Every expectant parent will tell you that they don't want a perfect baby, just a healthy one. Charlotte and Sean O'Keefe would have asked for a healthy baby, too, if they'd been given the choice. Instead, their lives are made up of sleepless nights, mounting bills, the pitying stares of "luckier" parents, and maybe worst of all, the what-ifs. What if their child had been born healthy? But it's all worth it because Willow is, funny as it seems, perfect. She's smart as a whip, on her way to being as pretty as her mother, kind, brave, and for a five-year-old an unexpectedly deep source of wisdom. Willow is Willow, in sickness and in health.
Everything changes, though, after a series of events forces Charlotte and her husband to confront the most serious what-ifs of all. What if Charlotte had known earlier of Willow's illness? What if things could have been different? What if their beloved Willow had never been born? To do Willow justice, Charlotte must ask herself these questions and one more. What constitutes a valuable life?
Emotionally riveting and profoundly moving, Handle with Care is an unforgettable novel about the fragility of life and the lengths we will go to protect it.
From the critics
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"Nobody really cared about her here. The reason people copied her and fawned over her had very little to do with who she was, and far more to do with who they needed her to be, to make up for some gaping hole in their own lives." (319)
"...this is where you start, when everything around you has gone to pieces." (409)
“People always say that, when you love someone, nothing in the world matters. But that's not true, is it? You know, and I know, that when you love someone, everything in the world matters a little bit more.”
“It was one thing to make a mistake; it was another thing to keep making it. I knew what happened when you let yourself get close to someone, when you started to believe they loved you: you'd be disappointed. Depend on someone, and you might as well admit you're going to be crushed, because when you really needed them, they wouldn't be there. Either that, or you'd confide in them and you added to their problems. All you ever really had was yourself, and that sort of sucked if you were less than reliable.”
“When you love someone, you say their name different. Like it's safe inside your mouth.”
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I think this is the ne about the black nurse who is reprimanded for handling a white baby. Very interesting presentation of story from all viewpoints.
Willow is the perfect child. She is kind, intelligent and never complains. Except she was born with a debilitating disease known as Osteogenisis Imperfecta, or OI, which makes her bones particularly brittle and susceptible to breaks. Throughout her childhood, however, more than just her bones break. When Willow's mother Charlotte O'Keefe is given the opportunity to make Willow's life the best possible, she jumps to the chance. However, this decision comes with great costs. In the end, relationships, families, and hearts can be just as brittle as Willow's bones.
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