'Me Before You' by Jojo Moyes
If you only read one book this year, I recommend this one. It is an absolute gem of a book and one that took me on a rollercoaster of emotions. It truly is a 'I can't put it down, even to scratch my nose' kind of book. Loved it, loved it, loved it!
It's a little difficult to write about it in too much detail without spoiling the story for you, but I'll do my best.
The main characters are Lou Clark, a small town girl looking for a job; and Will Traynor who is a quadraplegic in need of constant care. As far as Lou is concerned she is employed by Will's mother to care for Will, make sure he's kept company and to do what she can to make his life comfortable.
Will is cast in a very tragic position, due to a horiffic accident where he was an innocent bystander. He is left with almost no movement at all, from being a high powered company manager with a very active lifestyle and a new relationship he has become a prisoner in his own body unable even to feed himself. Constantly ill, in pain and alone apart from carers and his immediate family, he is a shadow of his former self.
Gradually Lou and Will become friends and Lou begins to understand his situation a little more. Eventually they become very close, and it becomes clear to both of them that they care more for each other than they would like to admit even to themselves. In an attempt to restore Will's faith in life Lou arranges to take him on holiday to Mauritius where they realise that they cannot live and cannot live without each other.
This book is beautifully written and the characters become more alive on every page. Lou is uncertain about herself and her abilities, but has untapped reserves of resilience, adaptability and a fabulous sense of humour. She is also incredibly determined. Will is a broken man, despite this he still retains a wry wit and an inquiring mind - which Lou does her best to fuel in an attempt to give him hope.
The tragedy is that there is no hope with this kind of injury and Will is trapped in his useless body. He sees his only way out as death.
I laughed at the many jokes and funny situations in this book, I sobbed my heart out at the end and loved the characters as if they were friends of mine. Me Before You is touching, tackles a very difficult subject, namely euthanasia, and is heartbreaking whilst still remaining life affirming. I didn't think those two themes could work side-by-side, but they do here. Perfectly. Read it!
Many thanks to WHSmith for sending me this book as part of the Richard and Judy Book Club 2012, you can buy your own copy HERE for just £3.99 (on Sale).