So I recently finished reading Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult. I am not sure if you are familiar with Jodi’s style of writing but she tends to explore very real issues where you wonder what you would have done. Nothing is ever black and white in her storylines and there are always AT LEAST a 100 or so shades of grey. She is one of the few authors who has the ability to force me out of my comfort zone and to confront prejudices that I didn’t even realise were present
Anyway, so Handle With Care (here’s a quick review) has the theme of “broken” running through it. Broken bones, broken friendships, broken marriages, broken hearts.
The story essentially revolves around a beautiful, wise little girl called Willow who has a disease called Osteogenesis Imperfection or OI (here’s a link) which is a form of brittle bones disease. It basically means that you can break a rib if you sneeze or cough or you can break your baby’s arm if you pick her up (even gently) or if you sit too suddenly you can break your legs.
Anyway, at some point in the book Willow’s mother (Charlotte) decides to sue her Obgyn (Piper) for wrongful birth. What complicates matters is that the Obgyn happens to be her very best friend AND she needs to say in a court that if she had known about Willow’s disability while she was in utero, then she would have had an abortion.
Sjoe. Can you say complex? Can you say emotional? Can you say “what on earth would I have done in that situation?”
Now as a Mom to kids who need a bit more I can’t (and won’t) judge Charlotte or ANY parent in that position but then again, my context is different. I AM actually living with kids who currently DO need a bit more and will probably CONTINUE to need more than the average kid in the future. I completely get where she comes from and WHY she felt that she was doing the right thing. Her sole focus was her child’s future as a disabled adult and I know that as an advocate to my kids I also lose perspective sometimes. Really, I get that.
The dynamics of the friendship between Charlotte and her BFF (Piper) FASCINATED me throughout this story. They really were the best of friends and had a beautiful, shared history together. They were literally in one another’s lives and one would NEVER have thought that things could turn out the way that they did. Charlotte was brutal and literally pulled the rug from under her friend. She completely blindsided Piper and I honestly felt sorry her friend, in fact I felt sad for both of them and for the death of their friendship.
Having said all this, I wondered what I would have done if I was in a similar situation.
Would I have sacrificed a friendship for what I perceived to be “the greater good?”
Would the means justify the end result if I had the best interests of my kids at heart? Would the means justify the end if I had to hurt people in the process?
Would I sacrifice a friendship in the interests of my kids?
Would I sacrifice a friendship despite there being a history of beautiful, shared intimacy?
After thinking long and hard about it (THIS is why I love Jodi Picoult – she makes me think DEEP) I ABSOLUTELY would.
Because ultimately, no matter how much I LOVE my friends (and I DO love them A LOT) I love my kids more – they are my first priority.
I am FIRST a Wife and then a Mother and only THEN a friend.
At what point would you sacrifice a friendship? Have you ever been in a situation where you had to (painfully) sacrifice a friendship for the sake of your spouse or one of your kids?
Have you read this book? IF not, please read it and then talk to me about it? And if you have read it, what are your thoughts on the friendship dynamic and the way the friendship (irretrievably) broke down?