Sunday, March 22, 2009

Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult

I'm not going to lie - I think Jodi Picoult kind of phoned in this novel, mainly because she blatantly recycled parts of My Sister's Keeper and Change of Heart. I don't know, when I read Picoult, it's always the same - the lawyer with a turbulent past, the family in crisis, a depressing ending - and while sometimes, I like the familiarity, sometimes, it just gets on my nerves.

In Handle with Care, Charlotte and Sean O'Keffe have a daughter, Willow, who is born with osteogensis imperfecta, or brittle bones disease. Their financial status is spiraling downward due to high medical costs, so Charlotte decides to sue her OB for wrongful birth - meaning that her gyno should have told her about Willow's condition in utero so Charlotte would have had the option of abortion. Of course, this being a Jodi Picoult novel, Charlotte's OB is her best friend.

Despite the intriguing plot potential (the O'Keffe's have another daughter who has A LOT of issues that should have been explored more), again, it's all just the same nonsense - there's a tense lawsuit, a lot of family drama, and a really really unnecessary and contrived ending.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

In this heartbreaking novel, de Rosnay fictionalizes a true event that most of us have unfortunately never heard about - the 1942 roundup and deportation of Parisian Jews to Auschwitz. This roundup was executed by French police and included thousands of young children basically sentenced to death. Sarah's Key shifts back and forth between narratives - that awful day as seen in the eyes of a young girl and the present day, where journalist Julia Jarmond is covering the anniversary of the event for a local magazine. The two narratives seem oddly disjointed at first, but as the story progresses, readers will see how the two become intertwined within each other.

Be warned: this book is really depressing, not because of the sad story behind the young girl in 1942, but because most books concerned with the Holocaust are really really depressing as a rule. It's absolutely shocking that such atrocities took place during the war in countries far beyond Poland and Germany.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Though this novel exceeds 500+ pages, its story remains relatively simple - Marion and Shiva Praise Stone are twins born to a nun (a nurse) in an Ethiopian hospital. Their mother, Sister Mary Joseph Praise, dies while giving birth. The presumed father, Thomas Stone, is the head surgeon who vanishes after he is unable to save her in the OR. While this may seem to be a rather bleak situation, the book becomes an almost light story about family, love, and medicine. The twins are raised by the hospital's other surgeon and gynecologist, who treat the boys as if they were their own. Everything is hunky-dory until the day when Shiva commits the ultimate betrayal and creates a divide against the two.

As the boys age, the political landscape of the country changes drastically, forcing Marion (the narrator) to flee to the United States. It is in this last segment of the novel where Shiva and Thomas Stone are able to experience some kind of redemption for the pain that they caused Marion.

Overall, an excellent novel - I was disappointed when I finished. The medical jargon can be a little much at times, but if you're into ER and the like, will be fine.