Me Before You – Jojo Moyes

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4/5, my grievances with this book were minor, and I read through it quickly, completely engrossed.

I have some uncanny ability to select books to read at a time when they will help me in some way. Books call to me at “right” or “relevant” times in my life…  For example, I am usually about the same age as the main character, not by my choice, it just seems to happen. And, as it would happen, I have recently gone through a major self-transformation of sorts and found myself again. Anyhow…

I definitely sympathized with Lou’s early encounters with Will.  In my personal and professional circumstances (I am a mental health professional) I have felt responsible for making someone else like me or feel comfortable.  Additionally, I had assumed that six months meant he only had six months to live (as outlined by doctors, not himself). I also identified with their dynamic of not being intimidated by one another and having that be a novel thing … as in, most people I have dated have mentioned how I wasn’t intimidated by them and that attractived them to me.

I have never worked with a quad before, but I have worked with someone in a mental health setting who did not have use of his legs. I do wonder if what Moyes says is accurate and what the quad community has to say about this book: if they feel she is making a spectacle of their condition, or if they are happy that a love story includes a quad, or are angry that the love story ends in the way that it does. I just would be interested to hear it from a quad’s perspective because … I don’t have access to what their experience would be like.

I found myself becoming a little annoyed at times and felt as though this was similar in some ways to Beauty and the Beast. I resent narratives of women needing to love a man “just so” so he can love her back/save her (or in this case himself), etc. I get angry when it seems like women stay in unhealthy situations in which people are mean to them. Though, I understand that in Will’s situation he has every right to be angry with the world. I think I am just reacting this way because of some of my own history with abusive relationships (not saying that Lou and Will’s was abusive).

One criticism, or point of confusion for me, was when Moyes described the racetrack fiasco and I found myself screaming in my head “Why don’t you just drive the stupid car to where Will is?!? Even just a little closer!?” I didn’t understand the conundrum of not being able to push his chair in the mud of the parking lot, when presumbaly, you could just move the car closer?! Anyway …

One other point that was glaring at me throughout the read is the issue of class and just generally the fact that Will is white, attractive, and rich. Sigh. I’m not sure why this bothered me a bit, but I think it had to do with the fact that there would likely be no story if Will were not rich–his family wouldn’t be able to afford hiring someone to “cheer him up.” Think about if the roles were reversed and Lou was the one that had the accident. Her family couldn’t afford to have her jetison around the globe in an effort to have her realize life can be beautiful. That sort of … irked me a bit.

I was really angry at the conversation where Treena said that she didn’t think how Lou felt about Will was “real,” and that it is just born out of the intensity of the situation and Lou agreed at the time?! I know she wasn’t sure about her feelings at this time, but how can she not believe it possible to love someone who cannot “love” you back. What does that even mean? In the physical sense? You can fall in love with someone you converse with online and never touch them.

I think I was also a bit disappointed that there was no mention of what actually happened when Will passed away, like if Lou was in the room. I wasn’t necessarily requiring an over the top scene where Lou was sobbing with Will slipping away in her arms, but I don’t know. I guess I just wanted something more. I understood why Lou initially ignored Will after his request for her to come to Switzerland, but, I was also really confused. I know I am not in that situation, but I have sat with people as they have passed and I think that’s the most comforting thing you can do, just be there, even if it’s scary.

Overall, very entertaining read and it broke my heart a bit. I did purchase the sequel, so I’ll be interested to see what journeys await the characters.

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