Special-Needs Novel Hits Close to Home

The novel I'm reading is a compelling and painful must-read for parents of kids with special needs.
ADHD Parenting Blog |
Parenting ADHD Children blogger Kay Marner is mother to an ADHD daughter in Ames, Iowa

Whoa. The book I chose to bring with me on vacation, Jodi Picoult’s new novel, Handle with Care, is not a light read. But it sure as heck isn’t a book I could close easily in favor of a quick nap on a lounge chair by the pool.

Handle with Care is the story of Charlotte, a mother of two girls, the younger of whom was born with a rare bone disease. Charlotte sues her ob-gyn best friend, Piper, for malpractice, alleging that Piper should have diagnosed the fetus’ problem earlier in-utero. If she’d done so, Charlotte charges, she would have (may have?) chosen abortion.

This is not a book about abortion. Pro-choicers won’t love it, while pro-lifers picket bookstores, nor vice-versa. It doesn’t further either camp’s cause. What it does is ask questions: one unanswerable question after another, each more thought- and feeling-provoking than the one before. It’s a book about life, and about death. It’s about parenthood, friendship, and marriage. It’s about adoption. It’s about the politics, realities, and misconceptions of differing abilities.

OK, ‘nough said. This isn’t a book review site, it’s a blog about parenting a kid with ADHD. So let me bring it back to that.

I read this book for entertainment, while taking a vacation away from my child with ADHD and other special needs, and the whole time I read it, I thought about both of my kids, my life, my choices.

And as I read, I kept flashing back to this: When I drive to Stomping Grounds for coffee, a couple of mornings each week, I pass a Planned Parenthood office. For the last couple of weeks, there have been protesters outside. Each time I see them, I’m instantly angry, and this is the thought that pops into my mind: How many kids with special needs have you adopted? How many kids that someone else couldn’t, for whatever reason, care for, are you feeding and housing and loving? Put your money where you mouth is, I want to scream.

Whoa. What’s that about? I guess my reaction to them--and to this book--is as complicated as the book itself. I’ll leave it at that. Read this book, parents of kids with special needs, and then tell me how you react.

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