Today's book review is adult fiction, rather than young adult fiction, which is rare for me! I read a sample of Me Before You probably years ago but just thought it was blah. I am a super ( read: annoyingly ) picky reader and typical millennial --meaning I need to be instantly entertained by a book.
I finally gave this book a chance when a friend told me to borrow it over the summer and I'm glad I did. I may have stayed up pretty late reading it one night. . . not only because I had to return it to a friend but also because I didn't want to put it down! It surprised and delighted me that I got into that reading flow--you know, where you're more interested in your book than, say, the real world.
Me Before You is about a woman named Louisa, Lou for short, who leads a rather sheltered life in a small English village when she is suddenly forced out of a job after the cafe she works at closes. Struggling to find employment, she ends up working as a care assistant for a man named Will who is quadriplegic. He is very abrasive and rude to her at first and she wonders what the heck she is going to do because she and her family desperately need the money. She learns not only about what it's like to live with his disability but to take risks and live larger herself. One of my favorite things about the book is the theme of how people can change us and make us who we become.
This book was probably a 4/5 for me. I really enjoyed the characters, the story, and the theme, but I did find the book predictable. Though, that didn't stop me from crying quite a lot through the last quarter of the book, and I did read it in about 3 days.
I would say you'd like this book if you like. . .
an easy/quick read
characters with unique circumstances
books that are also movies
Have you read Me Before you? There is also a sequel--After You -- but I've heard mixed reviews; have you read it?
P.S. There's quite a lot of discussion online about a major spoiler in the book, which I won't go into because if there's one thing I loathe it is people ruining books for other people. So, don't Google it or read below until you've read the book and then feel free !
[ Personally, I do not have a disability nor do I know anyone who does so my viewpoint on this issue may be skewed or taken as insensitive. Please know I don't mean it this way. ]
In my opinion, I think that, yes, there should be more films, books, etc. about people with disabilities but also I don't believe the author was characterizing Will's "solution" as the one thing all people with disabilities want and do. In fact, I think she went out of her way to say that everyone's life should be their choice and that many people do not feel like Will did.
I've also read the same idea--that writing about people with disabilities is using that feature to define and dramatize them--said about Wonder, which I loved. I don't agree. In my opinion, stories are stories. It would be less dramatic if Will hadn't felt this way; it would have ruined her whole story line. Women and men are portrayed stereotypically in books, movies, music, etc. all. the. time. and we don't say ( as often ) that the author is misrepresenting or stereotyping people and situations to sell books, which they probably are. I don't mean that in a bad way, but rather that if we all portrayed people and stories as they actually are we would probably be pretty bored with books and movies. So, let's not hate on authors because they dramatized a situation so we'd want to read it; it's kind of their job, right?
Instead, what if we had a conversation about all people, all choices, all situations and used this one book, one story line, one person's idea as a jumping off point for greater understanding? If we condemn someone for their actions, choices, or portrayal of others, we're shutting down the opportunity to talk about those issues and instead talk about how right / wrong that one person was. The beautiful thing about disagreement is when we can have honest conversations about differing viewpoints and learn from it, grow because of it.
If you've read Me Before You, what did you think?
"'Have you really read all those books in your room?' Alaska laughing- 'Oh God no. I’ve maybe read a third of ‘em. But I’m going to read them all. I call it my Life’s Library. Every summer since I was little, I’ve gone to garage sales and bought all the books that looked interesting. So I always have something to read.'" -John Green