Book Review: Me Before You

20 October 2015

There's one thing I haven't done in nearly a year and half and this is write a book review. To be honest I made a conscious decision to stop doing them because they take a long time to execute. I think with book reviews you really need to structure your content well and it's just not something I'm great at. I also don't read that many books that make me think 'wow, I really want to write a review on that.'

I did however read Me Before You this month and I just loved it so much. I thought it was beautifully written and I could really relate to Will, although I still have all my limbs functioning it was Will's thoughts about life and his choice to die that I felt I really could relate to. So for that reason I thought I would write a semi review, whilst talking about why I personally found that I had to write something about this book. I want to see if I can bring to light some parallels between his story and my own battle with mental illness and suicide/assisted suicide. Warning: This does contain spoilers. 

Title: Me Before You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Genre: Fiction, Romance,
Length: 481 pages
Publisher: Michael Joseph (UK)
Publish Date: January 5th 2012
Format: Paperback

What's it about?
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.
from Jojo Moyes' website

My thoughts
I put off reading this book for so long because really I had no idea what it was about, I knew it was hugely popular but I hadn't read anything about the actual storyline. When I did find out what it was about, it didn't really scream out to me as something I should pick up immediately. I ordered this from Amazon at the end of September because I wanted a change from my typical reading genre.

I’ll start off by saying that I love how this is written and that it isn't all clich├ęs or completely unrealistic. This book really sunk its teeth in to me and every time I stopped reading it I still found myself thinking about it. It's been a looooooong time since a book has done that for me. When I was younger this used to happen all the time, I'd carry all the characters with me, and this was what made me love reading. This book hooked me in and I found myself naturally wishing what everyone else probably did – that Will would change his mind. For me it was interesting to see Lou take on the challenge of trying to get Will to change his mind and Will explaining about how life was for him and why he wanted to make this choice. It was at this point that I realised that I knew exactly how Will felt.

Now I won't pretend that Will's condition is anything like mine, but what really touched me throughout the book was Will's decision to die. I think with a lot of terminal illnesses these thoughts prop up, but I've never read anything surrounding the situation in any great detail. Will's reasons stuck a chord with me because in so many ways they are similar to the thoughts that went through my head on a number of occasions.

The thing with life is once you see it in a certain way; people's words and premonitions about how it gets better are just futile. I truly believe that unless you're in a person’s shoes you can't possibly know that it will get better. Oh I know it's cynical for me to say and I wish to god it weren't true, but we all don't live the same life and want the same things and the mind is just such a complicated thing. It was of course possible for Will to change his mind-set and readjust to living in a wheelchair, but would have made him happy? It is of course possible for me to readjust my mind-set and want different things from life, but honestly it doesn't make me happy most of the time. I feel like I'm just going through the motions. The thing is changing your mind-set will probably only work for so long because there is still that other part of you that knows life is and should be better than this. Will was used to being an active person and with his accident he couldn’t do anything that he used to be able to do or wanted to do. I think until you're actually faced with something that limits your ability to live your life to the fullest, you just don't quite get it. There are SO many things that I want to do but can’t.

I know life is not a colourful rainbow for everyone, but with depression it is incredibly bleak. Even in my "recovered" state I still do not possess that enthusiasm for life that everyone else seems to have around me. Whilst I no longer want to die, there are days that I no longer want to be alive, and yes, there is a difference. I will never again make an attempt on my life, but this book struck such a chord with me because I thought finally maybe it's not only depressives that feel this way. That's probably very obvious to some, but I am of the belief that most people around me seem to love living life even faced with horrid illnesses and situations. The book highlighted to me that perhaps this feeling that spans across other illnesses and there is justification for wanting to end your life. It's never a decision that is made lightly and I think everyone should have the right.

I also emphasised with Lou because well duh I have emotions (a hell of a lot of them), we all want the people we care about to be around us and enjoy their life. It was touching to see what lengths she went to do make Will feel like he should change his mind, and in so many ways I'm reminded of how my friends and family encourage me when I'm nearing a very dangerous place. I of course know that none of this is easy for anyone and for most people it's hard to contemplate that someone would make this decision. I thought Lou's character was very well written and she just had all the right emotions for someone who went through what she did.

If you can't tell already I loved this book, not only for the story but the writing, I didn't feel that it lacked anything or over described anything. I think Moyes must have researched the topic very well and you can tell she really thought about her characters as humans. The book takes place over a 6/7 month period and I think the page length of the actual book is perfect. I don't feel that anything went on too long, or that some of the things featured in the book were just there to bulk it up. Every chapter felt well thought out.

So to summarise, I think everyone should read this book. I cannot wait for the film to come out and when I finish some of the books on my list I'll definitely be picking up After You, which Moyes wrote due to people wanting to know what happened to Lou after.


5 out of 5

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