Me Before You
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
A twenty-something with a quiet life becomes a caregiver for a wealthy quadriplegic man who hates how small his life has gotten since being injured in a motorcycle accident.
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.
I’ve had the ARC for this book sitting on my shelf for months, but have trouble talking myself into reading books that I know are going to be sad. When our book club suggested it, though, I jumped right at the opportunity, glad to have someone “force” me to read this book that I’d heard so many good things about.
What I liked: Unlike most books that deal with end-of-life issues, disabilities, and depression, in this one, the author inserts a certain amount of humor that keeps the book away from the cliff-edge of despair. Although I did have my qualms about the main character, at least her point of view was interesting to read, and kept the book more lighthearted, despite the heavy subject matter.
I also thought it was really interesting to step into the world of people with disabilities and learn — through the narrator’s eyes — just what it means to have a disability, and how society really treats them as somewhat less-than-human, even in today’s world.
What I didn’t like: I have no idea where in England this story was supposed to have taken place, but the main character doesn’t know how to use a computer? The man she’s caring for has never used computerized dictation devices? Maybe ten or fifteen years ago, but it made the story seem out-of-date.
But my biggest issue of the book was the ending. It left such a bad taste in my mouth, and sent a contradictory, even hypocritical message.
So Will hates how everyone’s been making decisions for him, how he isn’t able to live his life as he wants to? So what does he do — then proceed to make all sorts of decisions for Lou, berate her for wanting to live a quiet life close to family (which what’s wrong with that? what’s wrong with WANTING to work in a cafe, if that’s what she enjoys?), and convince her, basically, that life isn’t worth living if it isn’t big, exciting, full of world-travels and money. And she buys into it — yay, he saved her! Um… what?
I love sad endings. This one wasn’t sad; it was just frustrating. I felt like any sort of potential character growth was reversed — Will did what he wanted to regardless of anyone else, just as he always did, and Lou was content to let someone else tell her what she should be doing with her life.
Had Will died when he got pneumonia, there would have been the opportunity for a message about how life is precious, how even when we think we’re in control, that we’re not, and to life each day as our last. It would have been sad, but then Will’s gift to Lou could have been seen as a true gift, rather than a “consolation prize.”
Heads up: Sexual content (including a rape), some minor language