Me Before You

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes WARNING: If you are anything like me and on occasion get emotional over books, YOU WILL CRY LIKE A BABY.

This is an ugly-cry for sure. I had tears leaking down my face the whole way through. It's brutal and brilliant. This book touched a nerve for me which is why I think I was so emotionally invested from just about page one.

I read Stacia's review and she said that she thought that the book went in a different direction than she was expecting somewhere in the middle. I understand what she means, but I don't agree. It was extremely clear to me what would happen from the get-go and that was why I was just so WRECKED the entire time. I wanted the love story between Lou and Will to be enough, even as I knew it would never be.

Also Lou is a fabulous character. Though there was a moment around 60% when Lou was still going with her absolutely AWFUL boyfriend that I considered throttling her (but it was in character for her to stay in a relationship with someone who treated her poorly and had very little interest in her considering her horrid family and home they treated her.) The juxtaposition between the lifestyles between working-class Lou and rich and sophisticated Will was the perfect. It made the chemistry between them work.

It's really hard to say anything about this book without any spoilers. So this is SPOILERish....

Moyes does an amazing job dealing with the issue of assisted suicide in people with extreme, or severely disabling conditions. While I knew the whole way through how the book would play out-- I didn't agree with Will's ultimate decision-- but I did understand why he made that choice. That's the crux of why this book just GUTTED me, because I didn't think Will was willing to give himself a fair shake at life. It comes back to how Moyes masterfully portrays Will and Lou. Because when Will says that he had a "big life" before his accident, he really means it. Extreme sports, fast cars, women, traveling. He was all about experiences. It became nearly impossible for him to accept the smallness of his reality post-accident. His decision to take his life was the only one thing that he was capable of doing independently and he needed that. I understood that. A powerful man used to being in charge and calling the shots who becomes a someone dependent on others for every single thing, incapable even of hugging the woman he loves without assistance, would be devastating, and the adjustment to his new version life would feel impossible.

But I do think his decision was selfish. He had love, a family, and he had a life-- not the life that he imagined, but a life nonetheless. Because I could understand, but not accept Will's decision, I could also understand why Lou railed against him so hard at the very end, I was railing against him with her. One of the best things that Moyes does to fully address the issue of disability and suicide was to provide insights that Lou gets from other quads or people involved with quads on online message boards. It is important for the reader, and Lou, to see that Will's experience isn't the only experience. From there we get to see a well-rounded perspective from many people who have a very different lives from Will. Even people who are happy and content with the life that they are given.

At the very least this book will make you think. Probably it will make you cry and move you to really think about what it would be like to be in either Lou or Will's situation. It isn't a "romance" in the traditional sense of the word, but it is a love story which is sweet and poignant and gut-wrenching. One of my favorite moments is when Lou shaves Will for the first time and she realizes that he probably hasn't been touched in a non-medical way for a very long time-- she wants to be the one to touch him. It's only a moment in the book, but it is sensual and touching and the tenderness between the two characters is palpable. Much of the book is like that. Definitely one of the best books I've read this year.