Handle with Care

There are a few reasons not to read more than one Jodi Picoult book in a row.
1) They’re a little predictable, especially when you remember the last one you read very clearly.
2) A lot of the characters are the same (in some cases, actually the same, but in most just remarkably similar)
3) They’re emotional roller coasters and too much can upset you.

I’m mostly dealing with the latter right now. Handle with Care just came out on Tuesday, and I just finished it like ten minutes ago. It was good. Sort of a combination of different parts from My Sister’s Keeper, the Tenth Circle and the Pact.

It’s about a little girl with a disease that makes her bones really weak and she breaks them all the time. Her mother ends up filing a wrongful birth lawsuit against her ob/gyn (also her best friend…) to get enough money to pay for the things her daughter will need later in life. But it sort of just ruins all the good parts of the life they already had - the parts that money can’t fix.

When The Tenth Circle came out a couple of years ago, I read it right away too. It’s the only Jodi Picoult book I have ever not liked. Why? Probably because the issue she focused on in this one was one I actually knew something about - cutting.

I was - am - a cutter. It’s a little like being an alcoholic I think. You’re still an alcoholic if you don’t drink. You’re still a cutter if you don’t cut, because you still think about it all the time. You still think you need it, despite having overcome it, mostly. It’s taken me a long time to be able to talk about it - and indeed this is the first time I’ve talked about it in such a public place. But it’s a really important issue, I think, and a really big part of who I am today. I have at least three friends who have cut and I have read so many articles about how it’s a growing “trend” among teenagers today.

In The Tenth Circle, I just kept thinking that Picoult didn’t get it. She didn’t get why people cut, what it was like… any of it. And I thought it was so superficial. To the point where I wondered if that’s how people who knew about the issues in her other books felt. Do domestic violence victims dislike Picture Perfect? Do victims of school violence hate Nineteen Minutes? Do people who have been molested think that Perfect Match has it wrong?

With Handle with Care, I’ve started to believe that isn’t true. Because in this book, Picoult got it right. She missed the mark by a mile in Tenth Circle, but her description of cutting in Handle with Care was so true that it made my skin crawl, filled my eyes with tears.

“They weren’t on my wrists, don’t think I was trying to kill myself. I just wanted to hurt, and understand exactly why I was hurting. This made sense: you cut, you felt pain, period. I could feel everything building up inside of me like steam heat, and I was just turning a valve. It made me think of my mother, when she made pie crusts. She’d prick little holes aal over the place. So it can breathe, she said.”

“People always want to know what it feels like, so I’ll tell you: there’s a sting when you first slice, and then yor heart speeds up when you see blood, because you know you’ve done something you shouldn’t have, and yet you’ve gotten away with it….. You literally make yourself sick, becase you promised yourself last time would be the last time, and once again you’ve let yourself down. So you hide the evidence of your weakness under layers of clothes long enogh to cover the cts, even if it’s summertime and no one is wearing jeans or sleeves.”

Though the rest of the book was good, for me this sub plot was the best part. It redeemed Jodi Picoult in my eyes. For though I had remained a devout reader after Tenth Circle, everytime I thought of that book it made me mad. Now I’m considering that Picoult did her research just as well as the rest of her books - but that Trixie in Tenth Circle really did cut for a different reason than me or my friends. It doesn’t make me like the book anymore, but it gets rid of the hatred.

I know this is a depressing post, but I don’t intend it that way. It’s a problem that millions of people face, and I’m lucky because it was never too serious and I had a really great support system to help me through it. If only it could be that way for everyone. If only it wasn’t such a dangeorus “fad” now.

So, there you go. A piece of me, tightly entwined with a piece of the book.

2 Comments

  • By konfusedfae, March 8, 2009 @ 11:18 am

    *hugs* Amin mela lle.

  • By Christine, March 18, 2009 @ 4:29 pm

    Have you been back to read Tenth Circle again? Because the passage given in this post, while moving and beautiful, is stock talk about cutting and cutters. It describes the standard emotions and events that all the pamphlets say. Perhaps your in a different place now than you were when you read Tenth Circle (or your right and they reasons for the character cutting in it were different than in this one.) How did Tenth Circle screw it up so bad?
    —-sorry to focus on the book and not the personal but I send my hugs too

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