"You only get one life. It's actually your duty to live it as fully as possible."
--Jojo Moyes, Me Before You
--Jojo Moyes, Me Before You
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books/Viking
Publication Date: December 31st, 2012
Um...I just don't even know where to go with this. After not too much encouragement from Hannah and Cass, I decided that day to buy and read Me Before You. I'd heard good things, figured I'd get to it eventually. But then when Cass pretty much threatened bodily harm against me I went and bought it. Oh. My. Gosh. I hate (and love) them both so much for making me read this book. If you've read this book I think you know EXACTLY what I mean. If you haven't read it yet...for the love of all things literature please do. Ok. Let me try and begin...
The writing is amazing. I legit felt like I was transported into Lou's body and was experiencing her story first hand. The scene was set and it was one of those books that I look up from and forget I'm in the real world. Amazing.
The characters...fuck, man. They rip your damn heart out. Lou is 26 years old, freshly fired from her job and a little lost in the direction of her life. I felt for her. She really had no idea what she wanted to do with her life and no direction in which to go. I think a lot of people can relate to this in one way or another. You feel stagnant. Comfortable. And then you're hit with, what the hell do I do now? She is unique and sets herself away from a lot of things mainstream. She is quirky and doesn't take attitude from Will...WILL!!! Oh my gosh. I have yet to meet a Will in a book that I did not fall in literature love with. For real. If I ever meet a Will in real life I will know I am supposed to marry him. But anways. Will is...smart. sarcastic. snarky. kind of mean. stubborn. bossy. thoughtful. blunt. and 100% fantastic. I just CAN'T even talk about Will. I love him so much and if I start to talk about him I will inevitably give something away and I just CAN'T. Go read it. I love him. That is all.
The emotional trauma that is this book lies, in part, with the characters as I talked briefly about above...the other lies in the very controversial topic that is discussed.
A large part of the story focuses on Will's desire to commit suicide via a lethal dose of barbituates, basically physician-assisted suicide. This is a touchy subject and I found myself questioning and looking deeply at my own beliefs in the matter. As most of you know, I work as a Registered Nurse and I love my job. As much as I joke about it, I love what I do. I also am very religious and a firm believer in God and His Creation. With that said, my views on this topic might surprise you. I believe that life is precious. And I truly believe and try to live my life by the quote that I chose at the top--you need to live your life to the fullest. However, when that big life is taken from you, I can understand where Will is coming from. The better part of my soul likes to believe that I would not want that decision. I would like to believe if something like this ever happened to me, I would choose to be strong and live...but there's a bigger part of me that completely understands Will's decision. He and I share similarities in going after what you want in life and experiencing all that you can. His vocalization that he is no longer living, simply existing is very true. Would I choose this decision for myself? Or my family?...I would like to say probably not. But I have seen suffering. I have seen pain. I have seen poor quality of life. I have seen people begging to be put on palliative care or be placed as DNR and their families fighting against their loved ones wishes because they see quantity of life as better than quality. It is horrible. The movies make is look dignified and strong when people hold on until the very end. Let me tell you, there is nothing dignified about being incontinent and depending on other people to clean you up. There is no courage involved in simply existing to slowly lose your mind and become so delirious you have no idea who your family members are. This may sound harsh and I might get a lot of slack for saying this but unless you've experienced and seen this, you cannot judge Will for his decision. Some people choose quantity over quality, but I commend JoJo Moyes for taking this topic head on and bringing light to a very unpopular side.
The plot of this story, the emotions, the characters are unlike any other. There are so many other parts of this book that I haven't even touched because I don't want to write a 6 page long review...and I could. Here are the rest of my Cliff Notes. The relationship between Lou and Treena was interesting to read about. If you have sisters you can understand how they can love, like, and dislike each other all in the span of 10 seconds. I hated Patrick--that is all. Will is amazing. Nathan was a phenomenal secondary character and really brought a lot to the entire character arc. The medical aspect of a C-5 and C-6 injury was right on, as was the type of care involved at home. Lou's own personal demons broke my heart.
My face ...while I ugly cried and was wracked with being unable to breath normally while reading. Beast mode and not in a good way.
What are you waiting for? This book is beautiful and harsh and poignant and heartbreaking and uplifting. It is amazing. Plain and simple. This book is for anyone who wants to feel. Read it. You won't regret it.