Monday, June 6, 2016

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes

Summary: Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.

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My review: Let me start by saying the trailer for the movie led me to read this book. I’d heard the title a few times, but seeing the charm and emotion in the trailer gave me the final push to begin reading this book. I think the movie trailer (more than the book summary) gives some pretty big clues that this story will be a The-Fault-In-Our-Stars-level tearjerker. I was right about that. Definitely a three Kleenex book. Maybe four. (I put The Fault in Our Stars at two.) I had mascara streaks down to my collarbones by the last page.

Quirky Louisa Clark, age 26, lives a safe, small, contented life the same English town she’s always lived in. When the café she has worked at for seven years closes up, she’s out of a job and her family is out of its primary source of income. In desperation, she takes a six-month position providing companionship and basic care to quadriplegic Will Traynor, an ex-financial wiz, ex-adventure-seeker. He’s horrible to her and she hates her days tiptoeing around his hostile moods. She only keeps the job because she has no other financial options.

After working at the Traynors’ for about a month, she overhears a conversation she wasn’t meant to hear about how Will intends to end his life via assisted suicide in a clinic in Switzerland—hence the six-month contract. Louisa’s employment has less about making meals and tidying up after an invalid and more of a last-ditch effort on the part of Will’s family to inject his life with friendship and hope.

The burden is too much for Louisa and she immediately resigns, but changes her mind after Will’s mother insists he responds to her in a special way and she’s the only hope the family has of keeping Will from making an unfathomable choice.

With a countdown calendar, quadriplegic chat rooms, unlimited funds from Mrs. Traynor, and her own brand of sunshine, Louisa has five months to show a broken man that life—even a diminished one—is worth living.

I couldn’t put this book down, and I found myself sneaking off to extended bathroom breaks and neglecting my family for two days straight. The book was well written and well paced. It’s written in first-person through Louisa—except four random chapters from four other first-person points of view that confused me more than added to the story. I felt that switch in narration was a glaring mistake.
When I finally reached its conclusion in the middle of the night, I wanted desperately to have someone to talk to about this book, but didn’t know anyone else who had read it. Thoughts of the story kept me awake, replaying scenes over and over again.

I literally laughed so loudly at parts, that my husband kept asking what was so funny. I cried—big ugly cries. I raged. I pondered. I fell in love. This book makes you feel all the emotions. It is effective and powerful in that respect. Yet it also broke me apart a little bit. I very much considered throwing my Kindle at the wall as soon as I read the last page and my good view of certain characters instantly blotted out. So be warned—you probably need a support group to read this book. I’m here if you need me. I’m still quite uncertain if I’ll watch the movie or read the sequel.

My rating: This is actually really hard…the book is well-written and does what good books do—transports you into another world and makes you feel things you would likely never feel in your own life—but they are not emotions I am comfortable feeling and can easily deal with! The book is quite effective…yet also quite unpleasant…I’ll give it 3.75 stars

For the sensitive reader: Assisted suicide is a controversial topic and the main topic of this book. The book presents both sides of the argument as valid and fair. But it is an incredibly touchy subject and you’ll question the morality and the selfishness/selfleslness of all the characters in the book. (And shouldn't a good book present new, uncomfortable ideas for us to think about?) A peppering of swear words, including about five F-words. Scenes of sexual intimacy between two consenting adults (not graphic). Reference to alcohol use, a little drunkenness. A past memory including drunkenness and recreational drugs which resulted in repressed memories of a likely sexual assault.

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