Saturday, 3 September 2016

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes*

"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"

Louisa Clark lives a fairly simple life, and she is happy with it. She is 26, lives with her parents, sister and nephew in a small town, and works at the local cafe where she has been for the last six years. When her boss closes the cafe and she finds herself out of work, she has to start looking for a way to help support her struggling family. Eventually she settles at a new job as the secondary carer of Will Traynor, a 35 year old man who needs constant care after a motorcycle accident leaves him with a severe spinal injury. The two personalities clash, with happy, upbeat and chatty Lou not knowing how to really fit in with sullen, bitter and depressed Will, who has struggled with the adjustment from a happy, adventurous and active life to one where he faces daily challenges and pain as a quadriplegic.

Over time the pair fall into a routine and friendship, which eventually turns into a love that has many challenges to face. Although I found the book a little slow to get into when beginning, a few chapters in I found the main characters were easy to connect with which made the book super easy to finish reading and I finished the entire book of 497 pages in less than a week.

There were things I both loved and disliked about this book - overall the story is lovely and I felt that the main character grew in lots of ways. Lou was able to open herself to new opportunities in life and see her own potential, as well as mature through the book. I did find Lou's personality a little immature for 26 at the beginning, despite the fact that she held the responsibility of the main provider for her family. I also felt in a way that she much preferred to stick with what she knew even if it didn't particularly make her happy - such as her relationship with her boyfriend Patrick. By the end of the book I liked even if she still felt a little lost and didn't have strong ambitions, she had grown as a person and knew she had to experience life differently to how she had previously.

Although Will had good qualities, I disliked that he appeared as such a shallow character. It seemed that he could only view himself as a burden, and that his life wasn't worth living because of his accident as it would never compare to his life as an able bodied person. He makes so much effort to throw Lou out of her comfort zone and open her eyes to her own potential, but has a different view for himself due to his disability. I would have loved to see a really strong character with a disability, as I felt in many places throughout the book his character sent the message that it would be better to not live than to live life with a physically disabled. In the end I feel his decision was both based on the uncertainty of his quality of life, and also that he felt he was holding people back. He knew his parent's weren't living the life they would be if his accident hadn't occurred, and I think he also felt he would be holding Lou back from the things he wanted her to experience in life.

I did find it was a really great point that multiple times throughout the book it described the struggles a physical disability can bring, such as pain and sickness, harsh or unkind words and reactions from general public, and even just how difficult an outing to a public place can be. I did feel that there was also so much missing or that could have been represented also that could have maybe shared a different view of living with a disability but loved that it perhaps opened some people's eyes even a little who haven't had to experience those sorts of struggles.

I found the ending of this book to be quite predictable and could guess what was going to happen chapters before the end, but it was an ending that opened many peoples eyes to a controversial issue that they maybe hadn't considered before. I think its always great when a book or movie makes people consider a different point of view on a topic they might not have paid much attention to before and reminded me a lot of the moral dilemma from My Sister's Keeper.

Overall I enjoyed the story and would be interested to read the second book to follow Lou's character, and see if she continues to grow and stay on a new path with her life like I hope that she will. I'm also really interested to watch the movie now, and see how the characters are portrayed and how it compares to the book as I think it will be a really lovely (and heartbreaking) movie.

If you would love to grab your own copy of Me Before You to read (and let me know your thoughts!), you can find the best price through Socialbookco here.

*This book was selected by me and received through the Socialbookco Book Review Program. All book reviews are my true and honest opinion, and not influenced by socialbookco in any way.

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