Thursday, August 22, 2013
Me Before You
Me Before You appears to be the "it" book of the summer this year. I've seen it everywhere. On Barnes and Noble emails and stands, at my local used book store, on others' to-read lists on Goodreads, recommended via other authors...it's everywhere! So, I took this at book club, and being only the third person to have read it, I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I had high hopes.
Some might call this book a love story. And others might call it a beautiful story about self-discovery and learning your true limits. I can see that, but I tend to think it's more of a political statement about self euthanasia. Let me give you a little background about the book to explain to why I think this...
Lou Clark is one of the main characters in this book. In fact, I'd venture to say she's THE main character. At the beginning of the novel she's rather unassuming, having relegated herself to being the "lesser" child in her family. She's the eldest, but her sister is smarter, prettier...better at everything. And both sisters, in their mid-twenties, live at home with their parents and ailing grandfather. Lou isn't highly skilled or educated, but she enjoys working at the local coffee/pastry shop. And in her spare time she likes to be with her exercise-obsessed boyfriend...whom she's not quite sure she truly loves.
Rather early on, Lou loses her job because the shop closes. When she goes down to the job center, she quickly realizes that the economy and her limited skill set are going to make finding a new job rather tricky. After a couple of trial runs, things are not looking good. Then, all of a sudden, an opening for care-giver becomes available. Lou doesn't think this is the job for her and explains to the job adviser about her ailing grandfather at home and how she couldn't possibly do the things her mothers does to assist him. Reluctantly, Lou goes on the interview and gets the job after interviewing with the mother of the "invalid."
Young and gorgeous Will Traynor has done it all and been everywhere. Made his way to the top of his company? Check. Vacations that include skiing, bungee-jumping and other death-defying acts? Check, check and check. So, one rainy day when Will was run over by a motorcycle and left a quadriplegic, he thought his world had come to an end. He was sure of it. And he makes sure to let everyone around him know how unhappy he is in his current state. Yelling, grumbling, and rather making a spectacle of himself, Will is effectively shutting everyone out of his life.
Lou's job is simply to take care of Will's basic (emotional) needs. A special care nurse comes in regularly, so she doesn't need to take care of most bodily needs. Rather, Will's mother hopes that Lou will provide him with companionship and tone down his vehement hatred of what is now his life.
The rest of this book involves the relationship that Lou and Will harbor and develop. It's beautiful and sweet and a joy to read. But, the book also tackles the touchy subject of self euthanasia, which obviously is brought up by Will throughout the book.
I loved this book and thought it was extremely well written. All the hype measures up for this one. However, I will say that if this is a subject you're not sure about...depending upon which side of the fence you're on...you might be careful in deciding whether or not to pick this one up. Regardless, I highly recommend this book...and I also recommend having a box of tissues nearby while you're reading it.