This summer has definitely been crazier than I ever anticipated. I haven’t done anything super exciting per say, but man oh man have I been a busy bee. (Thank goodness for the bee Snapchat filter so I can truly live up to that identity.)
All summer long I’ve been working, taking classes, volunteering at Girls Rock Louisville, getting ready to be a sorority recruitment counselor, and preparing for the re-launch of the blog you’re reading right now! This post is the first of five in which I’ll be rounding up and reviewing all of the books I checked off my reading list this summer. Enjoy!
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Excerpt from back cover:
Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life – steady boyfriend, close family – who has barely been farther afield than her tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life – big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel – and he is not interested in exploring a new one.
Will is acerbic, moody, bossy – but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, Lou sets out to show him that life is still worth living.
Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common – a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart.
WARNING: Unpopular opinion ahead…
This review is a bit long, but I feel like I need to justify my opinion.
Now, to be fair, I haven’t seen the movie, but if it’s anything like almost every other book-turned-movie in the history of filmmaking, I think it’ll be okay if I pass. While Moyes’s storytelling skills are definitely admirable, there are certain aspects of this book that I find problematic.
For one, I think the story’s narrator, Louisa, is a dud of a protagonist. She has no desire, no passion, no drive. Her biggest accolades are her memorization of the steps from the bus stop to her front door and her knowledge of tea making, both of which seem to keep her completely complacent. While I think someone’s lifestyle isn’t really any of mine or anyone else’s business, reading about it isn’t really something that lights me on fire.
Second, the fact that her foil character, Will, is the source of her inspiration to lead a more ~exciting~ life is a slap in the face to women everywhere. (Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic.) But it is just seriously so disappointing. Why does it have to be such an unpleasant, cynical human being that becomes the focus of Louisa’s affection and transformation? Why does it have to be another human being, anyways? Why couldn’t her revelation and self-reflexivity come from the realization that life is short or a number of other cliches that fit so well with this narrative? (I could go on a tangent about how the patriarchy is at play here, but I will resist such temptation.)
Third, while I am all for a discussion of medically-assisted suicide and I think the novel does a good job of raising points on both sides of the argument, Louisa’s fixation on trying to make Will change his mind is disappointing and absurd. Will’s immature and emotionally abusive behavior aside, the fact that Louisa thinks she can force any sort of change into Will’s decision or opinion is ludicrous.
Overall, I think Me Before You is incredibly well-written, but the characters and story line are a tad bit problematic and disappointing. There are several moments throughout the story where I can see why this book has been successful, but for the most part, I think it’s become another Twilight. (Sorry, Jojo.)