Wednesday, March 19, 2014

TBR Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.
This is not a book I would have chosen to read at this point in my life, but my Internet Book Club chose it as the book of the month read, and once I began checking it out, couldn't stop reading. I've had it in my TBR pile since last year and I haven't read anything by Jojo Moyes, so, it's the perfect choice for this month's TBR Challenge theme -- new-to-me author.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes is a great book about life, yes life, and the right to make your own choices. I loved the main characters, the measurable growth we see in Lou, but most of all the emotional ride. However, if you haven't read this book (I think I must be the last one to pick it up and pay attention to the subject matter, but just in case), please note that this is not a romance so don't pay attention to that summary. This is fiction that uses a love story as a device to make a point.

Lou is a young woman who loses her job as a waitress in a coffee shop and has no ambitions. At home, she is the main bread winner but she's treated like a stupid cow. But the worse part is that Lou believes she's a stupid cow. Her life changes when she's assigned a job as care giver to Will Traynor, a quadriplegic whose life is filled with pain, and whose whole focus has become the right to be treated as a person who can still make his own choices, including how or if he lives or dies.

Moyes does not handle the underlying moral questions with a subtle touch. She presents both sides of the right to die question, but I found her approach preachy. As a result what comes is foreshadowed in a big way.

I love Louisa's narrative voice and liked the brief shifts in point of view to that of other characters, but sorely missed Will's which we only get as the prologue. It is as if he ceases to have a perspective or point of view about his life after his accident. But then, maybe that's the point -- his point of view does become crystal clear.

Me Before You is a good story notable for its controversial subject matter. As a new-to-me author, Moyes hit a few good spots. She kept me reading, I liked her characters, measurable character growth and the emotions that she was able to wrench from me as a reader. On the negative side, I didn't like the foreshadowing or the feeling that I was being preached at, regardless of what I believe personally. Will I read more books by this author? Yes, now that I know she writes good fiction I will definitely give her other works a try.

Category: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher/Release Date: Pamela Dorman Books/Viking/December, 2012
Grade: B-

6 comments:

  1. I see your point...I gave it a better grade because I thought it was a lovely lesson on how to put fears aside and live and try things while you can.
    The emotional side of things was heavy and I hated that from a certain point on, it was obvious what would happen but I still had hopes some miracle could happen. It's a situation, no matter how romanticized or pragmatic, someone dealing with it has so much to weight in. I still don't know what to think about it if it were me personally or someone close to me. In the book, being able to put some distance between my personal beliefs and my opinion of the fictional book, I still wish Will could have thought better. But in the end, how much life expectancy could he aim for anyway...? It's hard to think about.

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    1. Hey Sonia!

      I agree about the lovely lesson. That's the reason I believe this book is about life! I really like Lou's story and what she does for Will. And, I also think Moyes did a great job wringing out emotions from the reader.

      I didn't really want to weigh in with my personal believes, but I've always believed personal choices matter -- the right to choose what happens to your own body matters. However, I wouldn't even begin to know how I would react in a similar situation so I am not equipped to judge those who experience it -- on one side or the other.

      My problem with this book is that no matter the fact that both sides are presented, it is obvious that it is not presented impartially. The characters who disagree with the point of view that is presented as "positive" are for the most part portrayed negatively, and I don't think that is fair. In other words it is "preachy" and it shows bias. And, the end is foreshadowed with a capital F.

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    2. I think this is one of those things we can, rationally, defend or judge. But it's not something set in stone in our own minds unless we go through it. To me, the fact that there is the possibility of choice is as far as I go in being in favor. Have you seen that movie with Javier Bardem, Mar Adentro? Or the one by Almodovar, Habla con Ella? Similar situations and wonderful, heartbreaking scenes...loved both , cried a lot too....

      As for the book...I assume the "negative" POV only happened because of the story itself so I agree with you. In no fiction this dichotomy usually isn't seen as obviously.

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    3. We agree Sonia. In re: films, I saw both of them and also agree. Almodovar is a favorite director whose films I try not to miss. :)

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  2. I remember hearing about this book!
    And I'm happy you told me its not a love story because I kind of thought it was and I was about to get it.

    :D

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    1. Alex, this book was (is) very popular! I went into it having only read the blurb and no reviews. I thought it was a romance too because I saw all those great grades at romance sites. But no, although there is a love story, it's not a romance -- it is very good fiction.

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