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Me Before You: A Novel (Me Before You Trilogy Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 376 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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I couldn't put the book down, despite having watched the film several times, despite knowing the outcome... getting a little more insight into everyone's world was addictive. I only wish we could've heard a little more from Will's prospective.
Being American, some of the references and language was a bit hard to follow, but overall, the sarcasm and humor translated very well.
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.
Im not going to get into the movie trailer that was recently released, but I must say that a lot of movie goers are going to be deeply disappointed.
I have to applaud Moyes' high-quality writing, the way she seems to effortlessly string words together to tug the reader in whichever direction she pleases is impressive and the beginning of the book seemed promising, akin to the fault in our stars' plot line where the characters' illnesses provide them with a depth and humanity that makes their relationship and interactions intriguing. But it all goes downhill from there.
Lou's character is so precious, her perseverance and love for Will was strikingly beautiful. However, her efforts are all pointless and the message we are left with is that a life with disability is not worth living. This book had the chance to inspire and challenge the reader, to bring them close to the realities of living with physical challenges while proving that life can go on and there is beauty and hope in what others would deem tragic. Will is surrounded by a family that cares for him, he has financial stability, he can still do countless activities despite his condition and most importantly, his life is enhanced by the presence of a character who is willing to give up absolutely everything for the slim chance to change his mind.
I was furious as I read the book's ending. (which was predictable but still undesirable) Lou is willing to give up everything because she learns to see beyond the wheel chair, she can see Will as the man he can no longer see himself as. Will's letter at the end was especially infuriating. He asks her to fulfill her potential and pursue a life she'd missed out on, to live the life she "deserves". He spends his last months telling her that nothing would make him happier than seeing her flourish outside their hometown, yet he is unable to understand that the only life she wants is one with him in it. He urges Lou to expand her horizons and challenge her limits and yet he can't seem to see beyond his wheelchair. It was cowardly of him to give everything up when he had a chance at life with someone who could see him for who we truly was, he is haunted by an image of his old self and fails to realize that Louise is in love with the man he is now, and asks for nothing more than his will to live.
It is NOT a heroic act, it is arrogant to decide when his life should end and the suffering he caused Lou far outweighs any "opportunities" he could have given her with the inheritance.
It seems that only those that are close to or have witnessed the struggle of someone living with physical disabilities see the atrocities being discussed in the novel. That despite all the reminders that his life can still be filled joy and love, he has the right to choose when to end it, regardless of who he hurts in the process. I've read many books that don't end in happy ever after, but there was not point to the depressing, suicidal ending. No reason could have justified his choice but his decision to die is summed up as his inability to cope with the fact that he can no longer live the adventurous life he used to have or behave as the successful, athletic, popular, rich kid he once was.
Will despises the fact that he can not make his own choices, and yet he urges Louisa to go back to school, move on with her life, and witness his death without regard for her only request - his presence. The final scene is selfish and cruel, Lou is left suffering quietly because of her love for him. It goes against everything ethical and moral Lou's family stands for and yet she stands by him as he fails to see the life he could have led with her. Life already has its downsides and challenges, I don't need a novel that celebrates suicide and contemplates that tragedy makes life pointless.