|Me Before You
4.5 / 5
"There are 158 footsteps between the bus stop and home, but it can stretch to 180 if you aren't in a hurry, like maybe if you're wearing platform shoes."
They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose.
Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life--steady boyfriend, close family--who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life--big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel--and now he's pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.
Will is acerbic, moody, bossy--but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.
"A Love Story" for this generation, "Me Before You" brings to life two people who couldn't have less in common--a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?
I struggled with rating this book: I wanted to give it a 5, and I almost wish I could choose "4.75", but that would just screw up our system. This book made me feel so much, and like almost everyone else who read it, I was sobbing silently at the end, tears streaming down my face. It was an odd experience, especially because I was sitting in the same room as my fiance, and he turned around to ask me if I had a runny nose, then froze when he realized I was weeping. However, as much as I loved this book and I know it will stay with me for a long time, I just don't think it'll be up there in my "favorite books ever that I want to read again & again" canon. Close, very close. I'd recommend almost everyone read it - I was even shocked by seeing some male reviewers who were just as moved (to tears) by the story as I was!
I don't like that it's apparently being touted as a love story, because as many have pointed out, it's actually more of a commentary on euthanasia. I didn't really know anything about this book going into it (it became available in my Overdrive queue and I had to pounce on it because ebooks expire after a few weeks!). I knew I had wanted to read it, but I couldn't recall the synopsis. I'm glad I couldn't, either, because it turned out to be a truly pleasant surprise. Lou is a girl who is afraid to push her boundaries, and thus settles into a very small and quiet life in her hometown. When she is forced to job hunt, her limited work experience leaves her faced with bleak prospects until she is told of a position where she would be helping out a quadriplegic man with everyday tasks.
Now, when I first realized what this book was going to be about, I cringed a bit in anticipation: one of my very dearest friends in the whole wide world is paraplegic, and I am very sensitive about the issue and how the world at large views disabilities. However, the story turned out to be very engaging and real - almost too real, when the heart of the novel's conflict finally arose. When Lou realizes she is simply filling in time while Will and his family essentially wait for him to die, she is appalled. And understandably so, because she has really come to care for this man beyond the requirements of her job.
The book takes a real look at the issue of assisted suicide, and it really left me uncertain about the whole thing. Of course, I hate the idea of suicide, but I can certainly understand feelings of despair and hopelessness regarding your own future, as well. While you might be hurting many you love, what about the misery you are feeling day in and day out? That is the heart of the title of this book: is it fair to put yourself first when you know it will hurt others? When you feel that you are only a burden, and think you are removing yourself from their lives in order to let them lead theirs without you holding them back? It's a VERY interesting and really awful question. I always, always lean toward life, but I also can't necessarily fault people who feel like euthanasia is the only way out. I don't think. I don't know! It's not something I like to think about often. Clearly, it leaves me too much in knots - and I am lucky not to have encountered this problem with any of my loved ones. I don't know what I would do if I did. This book certainly explored the problem thoroughly and respectfully, I think. You'll have to read it to learn how it all turns out. But - and this isn't giving anything away - bring along some tissues. Expect a good cry.
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