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Handle With Care is a novel about the O'Keefe family. Sean and Charlotte O'Keefe are the parents of Amelia and Willow. Willow is five years old and has blonde hair and is really smart for her age. She was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, or OI. This disease causes bones to break very easily. Amelia is thirteen years old and has brown hair and a low self-esteem. Since her sister has OI and is really smart and funny, she gets most of the attention and Amelia feels lonely a lot of the time. Before Willow was born, Charlotte was a pastry chef but then had to become a stay-at-home mom when Willow was born so she could take care of her and made sure she didn’t break any bones or get hurt. Sean works as a police officer. When Charlotte and Sean decided to go on their first family vacation to Disney World, Amelia was very excited for the rides they would get to go on. When Amelia was talking to her mother about the vacation, Charlotte told her that they could only ride the rides that were safe enough for Willow to ride on. Amelia got really angry at Charlotte when she said this because she thought that the vacation would be fun for all of them, not just for Willow.

When the O’Keefe’s got to the park, Willow was really excited about all of the Disney characters that were there. She started to run over to look out the window at “Goofy” and slipped on a paper napkin and broke her leg. Everyone was shocked at what happened and a couple men from the medical facility put Willow in a stretcher and put her in the ambulance and drove her to the hospital.

As the doctor was tending to Willow, he noticed that she has had a lot of broken bones before. Charlotte tried to explain to him that she had OI, but he couldn’t believe her without a note from her actual doctor, which Charlotte forgot at home. The hospital had to make sure that Willow wasn’t being abused. That is why for Willow and Amelia’s safety, Willow was left at the hospital for the night, Amelia had to stay at a foster home, and Charlotte and Sean was taken into the police station for questioning. The next day, the doctor got a hold of Willow’s actual doctor and he explained that she did have OI. Amelia and her parents got to go back to the hospital to get Willow. They couldn’t fly home because Willow had to get a cast that went from her knees to her ribs and it wouldn’t let her sit in a plane seat. They had to rent a Suburban so Willow could sprawl out in the backseat and they drove the whole way back to New Hampshire.

Sean was really mad about being separated from his children in Florida for such a ridiculous accusation. He would never lay a hand on his kids. That is why they went to see a lawyer about suing the hospital in Florida. When they went to a meeting with the lawyer, he told them that it was very unlikely that they would win the case. However, after looking at Willow’s hospital records, the lawyer found something different that they could sue for. He found that Willow’s OI could have been diagnosed sooner than it was. If Charlotte would have known earlier that Willow had OI, she would have had the option to abort her pregnancy. Sean right away said that they would never go to court for something like that because he knew that they wouldn’t have aborted the pregnancy and he wouldn’t lie about something like that, even for money. Charlotte was seriously considering it though. She just wanted life to be easier for Willow and have more money to buy her things she needed.

Charlotte’s doctor during her pregnancy was also her best friend, Piper. After Charlotte decided to go through with the law suit on her own without Sean, everything seemed to fall apart in the O’Keefe family. When Piper got the papers in the mail that she was being sued, she couldn’t even believe it. She tried to talk to Charlotte about it, but Charlotte had her mind set. Sean ended up moving out of the house because he was so angry at what Charlotte was doing. Amelia started cutting her wrists and making herself throw up because of how depressed she had become. Meanwhile, all of this was about Willow and she didn’t understand any of it.

Charlotte and Sean ended up making up right before the lawsuit started. They also found out about Amelia’s problems and they talked about sending her to a clinic to get her help. Sean had agreed to testify against Charlotte in court, but everything was okay between them. Amelia also testified against her mother. After about a week of going to court, the judge declared that Charlotte had won the case and eight million dollars in damages.

About six months later, the O’Keefe’s didn’t spend any of the money they won in the lawsuit. They kept the check hanging on the refrigerator and talked about using the money sometimes, but they always found a way so they didn’t have to. One day during the winter, Willow took a walk down to the pond by their house. She wanted to see if she could see the fish through the ice, so she started to walk across as carefully as she could. Willow ended up falling through the ice and drowning. While she was drowning, she thought of random facts that she had learned throughout her life and the last thing she thought of was that this time, it wasn’t her who broke, it was the ice.


Picoult, Jodi. Handle with Care: a Novel. New York: Atria, 2009. Print.