Title: Handle With Care.
Author: Jodi Picoult.
Genre: Fiction, family, drama.
Publication Date: 2009.
Summary: Every expectant parent will tell you that they don’t want a perfect baby, just a healthy one. When Willow is born with severe osteogenesis imperfecta, her parents are devastated—she will suffer hundreds of broken bones as she grows, a lifetime of pain. But it’s all worth it because Willow is, funny as it seems, perfect. 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? To do Willow justice, Charlotte must ask herself - what constitutes a valuable life?
My rating: 8/10
♥ ...she pulled at my hands until I had to let go, until I was being dragged out of the hospital kicking and screaming. I did this for five minutes, until I went totally numb. Until I understood why you didn't cry, even though it hurt: there are kinds of pain you couldn't speak out loud.
♥ Sean doesn't realize that most people who offer their help do it to make themselves feel better, not us. To be honest, I don't blame them. It's superstition: if you give assistance to the family in need... if you throw salt over your shoulder... if you don't step on the crack, then maybe you'll be immune. Maybe you'll be able top convince yourself that this could never happen to you.
♥ I shrugged. You were Willow, pure and simple. There was nobody else like you. I knew it the moment I first held you, wrapped in foam so that you wouldn't get hurt in my arms: your soul was stronger than you body, and in spite of what the doctors told me over and over, I always believed that was the reason for the breaks. What ordinary skeleton could contain a heart as big as the whole world?
♥ The mural on the far wall was an ancient map, with a pirate ship sailing off its borders. Not long ago, sailors believed that the seas were precipitous, that compasses could point out the spots where, beyond, there'd be dragons. I wondered about the explorers who'd sailed their ships to the end of the world. How terrified they must have been when they risked falling over the edge; how amazed to discover, instead, places they had seen only in their dreams.
♥ There was a soft sigh on the other end of the phone. It was, I realized, the sound I associated most with growing up. I'd heard it running into my mother's arms when a kid had pushed me off the swing at the playground. I'd heard it during an embrace before my newly minted prom date and I drove off to the dance; I'd heard it when she stood at the threshold of my college dorm, trying not to cry as she left me on my own for the first time. In that sound was my whole childhood.
♥ Was it the act of giving birth that made you a mother? Did you lose that label when you relinquished your child? If people were measured by their deeds, on the one hand, I had a woman who had chosen to give me up; on the other, I had a woman who'd sat up with me at night when I was sick as a child, who'd cried with me over boyfriends, who'd clapped fiercely at my law school graduation. Which acts made you more of a mother?
Both, I realized. Being a parent wasn't just about bearing a child. It was about bearing witness to its life.
♥ "A dutiful mother is someone who follows every step her child makes," I said.
"And a good mother?"
I lifted my gaze to Charlotte's. "Is someone whose child wants to follow her."
♥ When I had been really little and the wind blew like mad at night, I had trouble sleeping. My father would come in and tell me that the house wasn't made of straw or sticks, that it was brick, and like the little pigs knew, nothing could tear it down. Here's what the little pigs didn't realize: the big bad wolf was only the start of their problems. The biggest threat was already inside the house with them, and couldn't be seen. Not radon gas or carbon monoxide, but just the way three very different personalities fit inside one small space. Tell me that the slacker pig - the one who only mustered up straw - really could get along with the high-maintenance bricklayer pig. I think not. I'll bet you if that fairy tale went on another ten pages, all three of those pigs would have been at each other's throats, and that brick house would have exploded after all.
♥ Once upon a time there was a girl who wanted to put her fist through a mirror. She would tell everyone it was so that she could see what was on the other side, but really, it was so that she wouldn't have to look at herself. That, and because she thought she might be able to steal a piece of glass when no one was looking, and use it to carve her heart out of her chest.
So when no one was watching, she went to the mirror and forced herself to be brave enough to open her eyes just this one last time. But to her surprise, she didn't see her reflection. She didn't see anything at all. Confused, she stretched her hand up to touch the mirror and realized that the glass was missing, that she could fall through to the other side.
That's exactly what happened.
Things got even stranger, though, when she walked through this other world and found people staring at her - not because she was so disgusting but because they all wanted to look like her. At school, kids at different lunch tables fought to have her sit with them. She always got the answers right when she was picked by a teacher in class. Her email box was overflowing with love letters from boys who could not live without her.
At first, it felt incredible, like a rocket was taking off under her skin every time she was out in public. But then, it got a little old. She didn't want to give out her autograph when she bought a pack of gum at the gas station. She would wear a pink shirt, and by lunchtime, the rest of the school was wearing pink shirts, too. She got tired of smiling all the time in public.
She realized that things weren't all that different on this side of the mirror. Nobody really care 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.
She decided she wanted to go back to the other side. But she had to do it when no one was watching, or they'd follow her there. The only problem was, there was never no one watching. She had nightmares about the people who trailed after her, who would cut themselves to pieces on the broken glass as they crawled through the mirror after her; how they'd lie bleeding on the floor and how the look in their eyes would change when they saw her on this side, unpopular and ordinary.
When she couldn't stand another minute, she started to run. She knew there were people following, but she couldn't stop to think about them. She was going to fly through the space in the mirror, no matter what it took. But when she got there, she smacked her head against the glass - it had been repaired. It was whole and thick and impossible to break through. She flattened her palms against it. Where are you going? everyone asked. Can we come, too? She didn't answer. She just stood there, looking at her old life, without her in it.
♥ Bake as directed, then carefully remove the foil and the beans - the shell will have retained its form because of them. I like seeing how a substance that weighs heavily can, in the end, be lifted; I like the feel of the beans, like trouble that slips through your fingers. Most of all, I like the proof in the pastry: it is the things we have to bear that shape us.
♥ Facebook is supposed to be a social network, but the truth is, most people I know who use it - me included - spend so much time online tweaking our profiles and writing graffiti on other people's walls or poking them that we never leave our computers to actually socially interact.
♥ "Say Cassidy," you instructed.
"Ursula," I parroted.
"Now...," and you pointed to your own chest.
"Can't you hear it?" you said. "When you love someone, you say their name different. Like it's safe inside your mouth."
"Willow," I repeated, feeling the pillow of the consonants and the swing of the vowels. Were you right? Could it drown out everything else I would have to say? "Willow, Willow, Willow," I sang; a lullaby, a parachute, as if I could cushion you even now from whatever blows were coming.
♥ Didn't everyone lie? And wasn't there a difference between, for example, killing a person and telling the police you hadn't and smiling down at a particularly ugly baby and telling her mother how cute she was? There were lies we told to save ourselves, and then there were lies we told to rescue others. What counted more, the mistruth, or the greater good?
♥ What makes the dough rise? The yeast, which converts glucose and other carbohydrates into carbon dioxide gas. Different breads proof differently. Some require only a single proofing; others need many. Between these stages, the baker is told to punch down the dough.
It's no surprise to me that - in baking, and in life - the cost of growth is always a small act of violence.
♥ Scrupulous, devout, annihilate. Lethargic, lethal, subside. The world would be a much easier place if, instead of handing over superstuffed syllables all the time, we just said what we really meant. Words got in the way. The things we felt the hardest - like what it was like to have a boy touch you as if you were made of light, or what it meant to be the only person in the room who wasn't noticed - weren't sentences; they were knots in the wood of our bodies, places where our blood flowed backward. If you asked me, not that anyone ever did, the only words worth saying were I'm sorry.
♥ Here are things I know for sure:
When you think you're right, you are most likely wrong.
Things that break - be they bones, hearts, or promises - can be pout back together but will never really be whole.
And, in spite of what I said, you can miss a person you've never known.
I learn this over and over again, every day I spend without you.