It’s like coming back home.

February 25, 2010

I hadn’t read a book by Jodi Picoult for two years until I came across this one. Before college started I read about eight pages of it in Borders and wished I could buy it but sadly it was $25 and hardcover. And I wouldn’t get to it for months. However, it reappeared many times in my life. In other bookstores, and then: in the library. I got it on a whim and didn’t think I’d finish it but with Jodi’s books, you get controlled by the plot and characters and all you want to do is know more. I feel so comfortable when I read Jodi’s books, just knowing that with every page turn I’m going to find out more and more. Next I think will be Picture Perfect.

Excerpt #53: Charlotte, mother.
Dont get me wrong; I am not complaining. Other people look at me and think: That poor woman; she has a child with a disability. But all I see when I look at you is the girl who had memorized all the words to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” by the time she was three, the girl who crawls into bed with me whenever there’s a thunderstorm–not because you’re afraid but because I am, the girl whose laugh has always vibrated inside my own body like a tuning fork. I would never have wished for an able-bodied child, because that child would have been someone who wasn’t you.

Excerpt #54: Marin, lawyer.
Being adopted felt like reading a book that had the first chapter ripped out. You might be enjoying the plot and the characters, but you’d probably also like to read that first line, too. However, when you took the book back to the store to say that the first chapter was missing, they told you they couldn’t sell you a replacement copy that was intact. What if you read that first chapter and realized you hated the book, and posted a nasty review on Amazon? What if you hurt the author’s feelings? Better just to stick with your partial copy and enjoy the rest of the story. (52)

Excerpt #55: Marin asking her adoptive mother about her birth mother.
“She got rid of me over thirty years ago. What if I barge into her life and she doesn’t want to see me?”
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 hard 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.
“Marin,” my mother said simply, “who wouldn’t want you?” (130)

Excerpt #56: Sean, father.
Just then, the wind whipped through the open window of the truck, wrinkling the wrappers of the baked goods and reminding me why I’d come back ehre tonight. Stacked in a wheelbarrow were the cookies and cakes and pastries that you and Amelia and Charlotte had been baking for the past few days.
I’d loaded them all – easily thirty wrapped packets, each one tagged with a green string and a construction paper heart – into my truck. You’d cut those out yourself; I could tell. Sweets from Syllabub, they read. I’d imagined your mother’s hand sstroking pastry dough, the look on your face as your carefully cracked an egg, Amelia frustrating her way through an apron’s knot. I came here a couple times a week. I’d eat the first three or four; the rest I’d leave on the steps at the nearest homeless shelter.
I reached into my wallet and took out all my money, the cashed sum of the extra shifts I’d taken on at work to keep form having to go home. This I stuffed, bill by bill, into the shoe box, payment in kind for Charlotte. Before I could stop myself, I tore the paper heart off one packet of cookies. With a pencil, I wrote a customer’s message across the blank back: I love them.
Tomorrow, you’d read it. All three of you would be giddy, would assume the anonymous writer had been talking about the food, and not the bakers. (234)

Excerpt #57: Amelia, sister, telling Adam, a boy with Osteogensis Imperfecta that she lied to him about having OI.
“I’m a horrible person,” I admitted. “I’m sorry. I’m really sorry I’m not the person you wanted me to be.”
Adam stared at me soberly. “No, you’re not. You’re better. You’re healthy. WHo wouldn’t want that for someone you really, really like?”
And then, suddenly, his mouth was touching mine, and his tongue was touching mine, and even though I’d never done this and had only read about it in Seventeen, it wasn’t wet or gross or confusing. Somehow, I knew which way to turn and when to open and close my lips and how to breathe. His hands splayed on my shoulder blades, on the spot you’d once broken, on the place where I’d have wings if I had been born an angel.” (290)

Excerpt #58: Amelia.
People always want to know what it feels like, so I’ll tell you: there’s a sting when you first slice, and then your heart speeds up when you see the blood, because you know you’ve done something you shouldn’t have, and yet you’ve gotten away with it. Then you sort of go into a trance, because it’s truly dazzling – that bright red line, like ah highway route on a map that you want to follow to see where it leads. And – God – the sweet release, that’s the best way I can describe it, kind of like a balloon that’s tied to a little kid’s hand, which somehow breaks free and floats into the sky. You just know that balloon is thinking, Ha, I don’t belong to you after all; and at the same time, Do they have any idea how beautiful the view is from up here? And then the balloon remembers, after the fact, that it has a wicked fear of heights. (372)

Excerpt #59, just a little section for one or two liners that I noted. The little things. Sean during his separation with Charlotte.
“That night I drove to Massachusetts. I didn’t have any destination in mind, but I pulled off at random exits and swung through neighborhoods that were buttoned up tight for the night.” (233)

Charlotte missing Sean.
“Somewhere, in the deep creases of my mind – the folds where hope gets caught – I believed that whatever was wrong between Sean and me was reparable.” (272)

Sean finding evidence that Amelia is bulimic.
“They came by the fistfuls: torn candy wrappers, bread loaf wrappers, empty packages of cookies and crackers. They fluttered over my feet like plastic butterflies.” (424)

In short: read it!

Handle With Care, Jodi Picoult


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