When Lou Clark loses her job in a cafe, she is faced with trying to find a new one where there just isn’t work. She still lives at home, with her sister and nephew, and her income keeps the household going, just about. Her dad’s job is at risk too. She reluctantly accepts a job as a carer for Will, who’s an arse. He has good reason, his perfect life was ruined when he was hit by a motorbike two years before, leaving him quadriplegic and completely reliant on other people. He’s alive but not living and that’s the last thing he wants.
I wasn’t even really planning on starting Me Before You last night, I am in the middle of another book but picked it up and started reading the first few pages. Next thing I know, it’s 3am and there’s tears streaming down my face. From the very start, it is made clear that Will never was never able to sit around doing nothing before the accident, which just makes his situation all the more difficult for him. As Lou becomes friends with him, she does everything in her power to make life worth living for him, but is that enough?
It’s not predictable and it’s one that’s never going to have a perfect ending, even if you can decide what that would be. It tackles the incredibly difficult subject of a person’s right to die. As a reader, you want so much for things to work out but it is a very realistic book, and there’s not going to be any frivolous miracle cures. Not only is Will paralysed, but he is often in pain and the injury causes numerous health complications. It is eye-opening at the very least.
Lou is the very opposite of Will. She has lived in a small town all her life, had no ambitions and doesn’t have much purpose to her life, living one day to the next. She doesn’t like her boyfriend all that much and she feels under pressure to support her family. Lou might want to change Will’s life but he also wants to change hers.
I’m reluctant to call it chick-lit, not because I think it’s a disparaging term, but because it may put people off this fantastic novel. It is the very best of what the genre has to offer, dealing with topical issues with very human relationships at the centre.
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