If you decide to read this book be ready for an experience similar to the one the book “The fault in our stars” offered, in the sense that you will probably get emotionally destroyed again. But here is where I stop this comparison because in terms of subject they are pretty different. In terms of a certain theme this book touches you might be left with a dilemma or very strong feelings against what the main character does. It’s important to keep an open mind nonetheless, going into reading it.
“Me before you” by Jojo Moyes is the story of a small town girl named Louisa Clark who we find after she loses her job at a small café in her hometown. She needs to find another one quickly as she helps her family, financially, since only her dad is working and her sister has a small child to care for. So her only choice, amongst rather limited and not very tempting offers that the small town has, is to care, for only 6 months, for a 30-something year old man who had an accident and is now a quadriplegic. Will Traynor has a very wealthy family to which he has now returned in order to be properly cared for.
Initially he was living in London, had a job and a life that he loved. A man determined to live the life at its fullest, he experimented as many outdoor activities as he could, travelled as much as he could, basically filling his life with things worth remembering, while being very active. But one morning, heading to work, he was hit on the street and since then moved back with his parents in their imposing home in the small town where Louisa resides.
Therefore, Louisa is faced with a proper challenge to try to uplift Will’s mood and provide him with food and some entertainment since he rarely wanted to go outside. As you would expect, Will isn’t the most pleasant human being, given the situation he’s in it is expected and understandable. In his day to day life Will is faced with pain and suffering, danger of infection, not being able to do much by himself since he can’t move his legs and arms. Everything has to be done for him. You can imagine it is a huge change and something difficult to adapt to given the life he lead before.
Soon Louisa finds out why she was only hired for the period of 6 months: Will decided to go to Switzerland to Dignitas (it is actually a real place) which is a facility that helps very ill patients, with no prospect of recovery, end their lives. Thinking she could actually make Will change his mind she researches things quadriplegics can do and spends her time bonding with Will and trying to make him do those things in an attempt to show him there are things worth living for.
But here is where things actually take a turn. We go on to find out that Will accepts to do certain things mostly to please Louisa and get her to do things that she never did before. He was puzzled by the fact that Louisa didn’t really want to leave her small town, go out into the world, experience things and live life to the fullest as Will thinks it should be lived. So both have their own motivations for doing what they are doing, but it works to both their benefit in the end.
I really liked that the book, heartbreaking as it is, was honest, felt real and authentic in terms of Louisa and Will’s experience and in regards to the ending. Honestly I don’t know if I would’ve wanted the book to end any other way. It would’ve felt, to me, artificial and trying too hard to deliver a happy ending, a more socially acceptable story. Nevertheless, the book is very catchy, so be warned because you might lose a night or two reading it, the book being hard to put down.
Also, I found the book rather daring, it is sometimes being categorized as a chick lit which I do not fully agree with even if it is written mostly from Louisa’s point of view. What I mean by daring is that it tackles with such a hot and debated subject: the right to die (sounds weird, right?) and assisted suicide. Previously, regarding this subject, I’ve only watched the movie “Mar Adentro” and saw an HBO documentary “How to die in Oregon” which talks about how assisted suicide works in Oregon, it being the first state in USA to approve it and you also see specific cases of people who chose that, them explaining to you why they chose so.
Since I read the book the subject did not leave my mind so I dedicated some time into researching it a bit. There are lots of resources on the Internet and information about it, you can also find out where assisted suicide is approved in the world. Spoiler: not in many countries. I will leave some links down here if you want to read more on the subject:
- TIME: http://time.com/3551089/brittany-maynard-death-with-dignity/
- The Economist: http://www.economist.com/news/international/21607888-small-group-countries-helping-someone-die-not-crime-where-go-die
- Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-suicide-physician-assisted-idUSKCN0QF1QC20150810
- The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jul/17/euthanasia-assisted-suicide-laws-world
I don’t want to get too much into the debate because I find it nuanced and in its early stages and it’s a matter that needs much more discussing before giving a decisive “yes” or “no” in regards to it. What I do agree with is that it really leads you to think about quality of life. Who is to say a person cannot do it or decide for someone who chose to go for it if they are terminally ill and in pain and with no prospect of getting better? I agree it is depressing even thinking about it.
It is a very subjective matter, different people can have different opinions considering beliefs, religion, life experiences. What I do think is it is not worth a rapid dismissal. It is very worth giving thought to it and discussing about it before judging someone who did it or who wants to do it to try to understand his or her position first. It is a topic that is just beginning to be touched on in many places in the world.
The book “Me before you” was made into a movie that will premiere this summer. The trailer looks great:
Later edit: I found this video about the controversial subject of „the right to die”. It is a video worth watching and also a channel worth subscribing too: The Nerdwriter
Are you tempted by either the book or the movie? Tell me in the comments.