A book you like based on the cover: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
Prepare yourselves…this is one of the ultimate chicklit tear-jerker novels I have read in a long, long time. Get the tissues ready! I am looking forward to watching the film that has just been released in theaters and comparing the “book-to-film” adaptation. For now, let’s discuss the literary version first.
Louisa Clark is a small-town young woman who is like many of us in our mid twenties: directionless, unsure of herself and her place in the world. Lou has fallen into a rut working at a local café, serving tourists and locals. Although she loves the job, it pays little and has no real future. Lou needs the income to help support her family which consists of a batty granddad, dad whose job at the local furniture company is precarious, younger sister who had a baby out of wedlock and mom who stays home to take care of dotty granddad and baby. One fateful day, Lou is shocked to learn that the owner of the café is retiring and closing down shop. Suddenly, Lou is left with no job, no income that her family desperately needs, and no earthly clue where she will be headed next.
We empathize with Lou as she goes to the local unemployment office and tries her had at several different jobs, all of which leave her distraught and hopeless. Lou becomes very desperate and truly wonders what to do with her life. With pressure from her family to bring home the bacon, Lou takes a very high paying job as a caretaker for a quadriplegic man. With huge reservations, she begins a relationship that will change her life forever.
Enter Will Traynor. Will was your typical handsome, debonair asshole. He was a corporate success, made tons of money, and lived a life full of excess and adventure. Then one day, a freak accident left him a quadriplegic. For a man like Will, begin resigned to a chair for the rest of his life felt like a fate worse than death. He want from being completely self sufficient to needing assistance with every aspect of his life. Lou was hired to be a companion, to try and draw Will out of his misery and depression.
Unbeknownst to Lou, Will requested that his parents allow him to end his life through assisted suicide. They ask him to give them six more months to change his mind, and they are hoping Lou will be the one to do it. Lou and Will get off to a very rocky start, but as the story progresses, they both help one another grow and see the world in a new way. They end up being the best thing that ever happened to the other. Lou begins to see the complicated and biased ways the world treats the handicapped and it changes her worldview in a positive way.
Can Lou change Will’s mind and give him a reason to stay alive even if he cannot be the man he wants to be? Is it right to allow people who are in pain and have no hope of recovery to make the decision to end their own lives? If it came down to it, could you watch the person you love make that choice?
This was a fantastic novel disguised as a love story, but truly it was so much more than that. It discusses ethical issues of right-to-die and raises awareness to the able bodied community about the limitations our world poses to people with disabilities. I highly recommend this read to anyone who wants to explore these questions in greater detail.