My rating: 4 of 5 stars
4+ stars to Jojo Moyes‘s Me Before You. I saw a glimpse of the movie preview and had perused a few online reviews of the book when I added it to my “To Read” list. I had to read it before I could watch it which means moving it up quickly. It seemed like a good choice yesterday morning and soon it became my Saturday read!
Will was hit while crossing the street ending the extremely adventerous part of his life and leaving him a quadriplegic. His friends slowly disappeared and Will was stuck moving back home with his parents living a very minimalistic life where he basically sat in his chair staring thru the window all day long. He comes to an agreement with his family about his care for a 6 month period where he will try to be a little more positive but afterwards, they must accept his choices.
Louisa was content with a simple life supporting her parents and sister but suddenly lost her job and had to find something to be able to help survive. She had very little hopes and dreams mostly because she just addressed each day as it came never really focusing on her own future. She accepts a job as a caretaker for Will where she’s supposed to just try to keep him a little cheerful but fights with the decision to take on this type of role for a 6 month duration.
They of course mix like oil and water at first but in time find a way to tolerate one another. Their relationship eventually gains depth and learn they need one another to keep going forward. But Will’s ultimate plans are not what Louisa expected, and she struggles with how to accept his choices. The story takes you on a path of romance, anger, hope and despair ending in a very emotional place but opening the door for a sequel to see what happens after this experience.
For most readers, this book will take you away from your own life’s troubles giving you something much more intense in which to immerse yourself. The pacing, timing, setting, character development and imagery will capture your attention and make you realize you likely have it pretty good in your own life. While you’ll understand enough of the pain and barriers people with physical disabilities experience, you will also learn what it’s like emotionally to handle such a huge change to your lifestyle and relationships. By the end, your problems will seem far less dramatic and you may even walk away from the book feeling energized to be more positive. (And yes, you’ll spend most of the book crying and sad!)
With full caution, I may not be aware of what life is like in towns like the one in this book and thus this may not actually be a weakness… however, Louisa’s family and hometown seems a bit unrealistic. I get that she has two parents, a grandparent, a sister and a nephew living with her and times are tough financially. I get that parents sometimes tease their kids about life choices. But there’s a clear love between the family at the same time as a clear favoritism for Louisa’s sister over Louisa. Many pages are devoted to how intelligent and beautiful her sister is and why the family needs to spend more money and love on her. Louisa may act a bit plain and simple, but she’s the one supporting the family. And then when the mother reacts to Louisa’s choices at the end of the book, I was confused as to why she would be so divergent. Yet the scene where Will comes to Louisa’s birthday party were incredibly touching to a point where I really liked her family. It felt a little bit yo-yo-ish for me.
To love this book, you have to love emotion. You have to be OK with crying and getting angry. You have to be OK with accepting how other people have a right to make their own choices. You have to realize people are different. You have to understand that yes, there are people in the world like this and just because you haven’t met them or interacted with them much doesn’t mean they aren’t there. What I loved most about this book was the beauty and pain from which I am often sheltered. And when a book makes you get out of your own skin, you have to acknowledge its strengths.