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As soon as I saw the preview for Me Before You I knew I wanted to see the movie. I rarely (once a year?) go see a movie in the theater so I have been patiently waiting for it to come out on DVD. Recently I saw a post about the book Me Before You on Facebook. I immediately bought it so I could read the book before seeing the movie. I’m an avid reader, what can I say? I always like to read the book first.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes is the story of Will Traynor, a rich businessman and extreme athlete, who becomes paralyzed in an accident. Louisa Clarke, desperate for a job, comes along to be his caregiver. She makes it her goal to show Will he has a life worth living, even in a wheelchair. Sounds a bit sappy, yes? I rarely read fiction, so I don’t know if I’m the best judge of the book, but am happy share my opinion. I found the first chapter hard to get into; the writing seemed a bit juvenile. By chapter two, however, the story had reeled me in. I enjoyed having the image of the characters in my head (from the movie preview) it helped me get a feel for them and made them more believable to me.
Me Before You has generated a bit of controversy on two fronts. I was first aware of this when I read a Facebook post about how horrible the book was and how it should be avoided…because it deals with the issue of assisted suicide. I feel like Moyes dealt with the issue in an unbiased way. It is rarely talked about outright in the book, rather she dances around the topic as the characters talk and move throughout the story. Never, as the reader, was I hoping Will would choose suicide. I was rooting for his life until the last page. To me this book told a story…a story about a man who became a quadriplegic through a terrible accident and didn’t feel he could bear life in a wheelchair. Like it or not, this is Will’s story…
Me Before You has also been criticized by the disabled community. Many there have said the book and movie promote the idea that life is only worth living if one is able-bodied. I am not disabled, so I won’t venture to speak on their behalf. But once again, as a reader, I did not once get the idea that disabled life wasn’t worth living or that suicide was an admirable choice. I came away thinking about how difficult it would be to suddenly lose the ability to care for myself. I found myself thinking about the characters and their reactions after I finished the book. Will Traynor was a self-absorbed snob before becoming paralyzed; why should being disabled suddenly change that? I appreciated the that Moyes didn’t go the Pollyanna route, making Traynor int a saint or hero after his accident. He was still Will.
I don’t want to give any spoilers… Overall, I enjoyed the book, even though it is outside of my usual genre. I would recommend this to friends. It wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but I can honestly say I enjoyed the story and am looking forward to seeing the movie.
Now for a kids’ book. Apollo has been really into Superhero Instruction Manual, no surprise there!
Superhero Instruction Manual by Kristy Dempsey and Mark Fearing gives kids seven steps for becoming a super hero. This book has everything from how to choose a name, a sidekick, costume and more. The main character (we are never given his name) is determined to be a super hero…but discovers he needs a little bit of help and humbleness along the way.
I’m not ashamed to admit the I still enjoy a kids book with a good lesson in it. In this book the brother realizes he needs his sister’s help. This book shares a lesson without the book being preachy. To me, this is win-win. Apollo and I both equally enjoy Superhero Instruction Manual and I would recommend it to any kid between the ages of 4-8. Thanks, Penguin books, for sending it our way!
Have you read Me Before You? What do you think about the controversy?