Me Before You {Weekend Reading}

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What I'm Reading: Book Reviews from an Avid Reader

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!

If there's one thing we love around here, it's super heroes...and sometimes those superheroes need an instruction manual.

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?

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7 Responses

  1. If you haven’t read Rachel Held Evans, I think she’s terrific–she is all the rage on evangelical Christian campuses, but I’m an atheist and still think she’s one of the best writers I’ve ever stumbled across. I’m particularly fond of her Evolving in Monkey Town (which now has a new title, Faith Unraveled)–I prefer the first title: she really did grow up in the town where the Scopes trial took place, shuffled off that old time religion, and after a spiritual crisis described with feeling and humor, found her own way. I like her A Year of Biblical Womanhood, too.
    Philip Pullman’s trilogy, His Dark Materials, is a thrilling re-telling of the book of Genesis and Milton’s Paradise Lost–a feminist version of both, in a way–there’s a harrowing of hell, there’s an Adam and Eve, and I won’t tell you the ending, but the books are real page-turners. Forget the film version of the first book (“The Golden Compass”) which doesn’t do it justice.

    • I’m pretty sure I have read A Year of Biblical Womanhood. I am a sucker for memoirs and any “A Year of Books”…It’s kind of an addiction for me! I’m *really* not into Christian fiction…Happy endings aren’t my style, unless its non-fiction, so it really happened. I think I will look into Evolving in Monkey Town/ Faith Unraveled. Thanks for the suggestion!

      • I promise no happy ending with the Pullman books. I also promise not an unbearably sad one. These are really fascinating books–I am not religious, but love the bible and the Greek and Roman myths, and can’t help but think someone who is religious would like them. On the other hand, while an Anglican bishop praised them highly, certain quarters of the Catholic church harrrumppphhed quite a bit. But really, great reads. I also loved A Year of Biblical Womanhood.

  2. I walked into the movie completely unprepared and did not like it at all. I guess what bothered me most is that his family agreed to Will’s decision because he had been trying to kill himself in dangerous ways. REALLY???!!!??? How does a quad kill themselves without help? How does he do it safely? I would say, “Keep trying, Will. But you are never going to slit those wrists!”

    • I haven’t seen the movie yet, so I can’t speak to it. One thing I appreciated about the book is Lousia was never okay with Will killing himself…in the end she went to be with him, but never approved of it.

  3. I really liked the book, Me before You. What a twist on the story of poor girl meets rich arrogant boy. Yes, it’s a tear jerker. But it makes you think! I’m a pro life person in a lot of ways but can identify with Will in not wanting to go on living as a quadrapalegic. I’m also a nurse and know more about what that life would be like. It’s not pretty.
    I also read After You, the sequel. Interesting but not as good. There’s no Will.

    • Jubilee read the book and was sobbing afterward. She started reading it again the next day!

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