I just want to start this with a huge disclaimer. Originally, I didn’t want to read this book. I had really low expectations and I went in with a negative opinion of it before even reading it. I’m Catholic and love to be part of the community. When the book (and, subsequently, the movie) came out, it was labeled at promoting euthanasia and encouraging assisted suicide. I want to be really, really clear: this book does not at all promote or encourage assisted suicide. I think people who participate in the pro-life community should be highly encouraged to read this book as it offers phenomenal insight to the struggles and the costs that come with assisted suicide.
- Title: Me Before You
- Author: Jojo Moyes
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Structure: Linear first-person
- First Line: “When he emerges from the bathroom she is awake, propped up against the pillows and flicking through the travel brochures that were beside his bed.”
The good is great. I’ll summarize for you in my usual five points. There’s more than these five points, but I think these are great starters.
- I felt like I could connect with the characters. Obviously, this is part of any good book. However, it’s not always an easy task, especially when they grew up in a different culture (I’m American, the characters are British). Louisa Clark is the main female character and the novel is written primarily from her point-of-view. I absolutely loved seeing her struggles and her successes. Overall, there were a few good characters I felt like I could root for.
- The author did her research. Should be another “duh, I hope so”, but this is not always the case. I felt like this book was connected to present-day and not written so off the cuff that you couldn’t imagine the story actually taking place. I was completely immersed in the story right off the bat.
- So many emotions! Sometimes, I do get emotional with books, but it’s not a frequent thing. This book had me cracking up. This book also had me in tears. It was heart-healing and heartbreaking all at the same time.
- Seeing the struggle of all the friends and family of Will was done so well. Nobody had the same opinion about assisted suicide. There were some who out-and-out shunned those who support Will’s decision. There were others who were reluctant supporters: they didn’t want it to happen, but came to terms that it was outside their realm of control. Moyes did a fantastic job at accurately displaying a wide-range of mixed emotion, much of how it is in our current society.
- The writing was superb! It was detailed enough to paint a vivid picture, but not too detailed where you need a PhD just to get through the vocabulary of it. I did look up a couple things that seemed to be British slang, but for the most part, this book was a remarkably fast and easy read. I honestly didn’t want to put the book down once I started! I could’ve finished it in a whole day!!
The main weird part that stuck out to me is that you’re going along this narrative told by the main female character, Louisa Clark, and every so often, there’s a random first-person narrative by one of the supporting characters. It threw me through a loop. I understand the creative side to it and to have other characters’ perspectives available. However, I have the opinion that the whole book would’ve been find without those random chapters and maybe even better without them.
THE SWEET SPOTS
In this section, I cover some of my deeper, personal thoughts. Books are meant to make you think. I always think the best books are the ones that help you discover pieces of yourself.
- Did this book remind you of anything that has happened to you?: This book is as much about finding meaning in life as it is about trying to convince a quadriplegic not to commit suicide. The main male character truly reminded me of myself, mainly because of his dry sense of humor and his love for all things adventure. I absolutely loved the encouraging words he would say about living your life. It’s not the typical “live your life to the fullest” schpeel. It’s something completely different and eerily the same: just enough to make you say “absolutely”.
- Did this book give you any new ideas of yourself?: I like to think that I’m sensitive and educated when it comes to matters of the disabled community, but this book really shone a spotlight on how little I do know. It truly made me think about how I treat/would treat someone with limited physical abilities. Would I treat them like a regular person? Would I be awkwardly overly accommodating? Are there things I don’t know that would make me come off as insensitive? It also made me think about exercise in an entirely new light: as a privilege, not a chore.
- What lesson did you learn?: There are some things so out of your control that all you can do is feel the emotions that come with that and lean on the people who love you. The only thing that is within the realm of your control is your life: the way you live it, the people who participate, the places you go. So, choose wisely because life likes to change. And fast.
I think this book is a must-read. It addresses such an important topic of our time and does so in a way that all sides are presented. I never got the impression that the narrator or the author were trying to pressure the reading into being “for” assisted suicide. In addition to obvious, some-what political, hot topic, this is a fantastic read to encourage you to get the most out of life. If you’ve seen the movie and thought “eh”, I’m right there with you. The book is a million times better!