Before I go any further, I'm going to be giving some spoilers for the book in this review. Not the BIG end-of-book spoiler, but major plot lines that a reader (if you're like me) might not want to know about ahead of time. Just FYI.
This book is the story of Louisa (Lou) Clark, a quirky 26-year old English waitress who is perfectly content spending each day serving coffee at the local cafe, until the cafe closes and she needs to find another job. Fast. Though she doesn't have any experience in the field (she doesn't really have a lot of experience in anything), she interviews to be the caretaker for a 35-year old quadriplegic, Will Traynor. Surprisingly, even without any qualifications, she is hired for a six month contract.
Will, prior to the motorcycle accident which caused his paralysis, was a wealthy, adrenaline-seeking, world-traveling business executive who thrived on risk-taking life experiences: bungee-jumping, skydiving, etc. His new life in a wheelchair has been one that, in his opinion, isn't worth living. He has already attempted suicide once, and has asked his family to move him to a facility in Switzerland which will help him end his life. Seeing how desperate Will is, his parents agree...but after six months. And this is when Lou enters the story, hence the six month contract. Though Lou is originally unaware of the agreement between Will and his parents, she eventually does figure out what is going on and decides to go on a mission to change Will's mind about ending his life. For me, this was the main crux of the book. Sure, there is romance and other plot devices to keep the book moving forward, but the heart of "Me Before You" is whether or not Will has the right to choose if and when he dies.
I'll be honest, I haven't thought a lot about medically-assisted suicide. Fortunately, I've never had a reason to. But "Me Before You" brings up some good points for discussion about what is considered "living a good life." And if you are completely unable to live this life for reasons of paralysis or severe illness, should you be forced to live in pain and suffering for years or even decades? And who gets to make those decisions? You? Your parents? Your spouse? Doctors? What if you meet someone who might make your life worth living again?
Of course, it's impossible to have a blanket answer to all of these questions, but it's interesting to think about, which is why I think this book would be a good for a book group. The book itself is a VERY easy read, I think it took me a day to read, and definitely kept my interest. It kind of has a Nicholas Sparks / Jodi Picoult hybrid thing going on. You'll have an ugly cry or two but then also wonder what you would do in a similar situation. If you like those authors, you'll probably like this book.
On a sidenote: I'm currently reading another book that I have seen on several of the aforementioned lists - "Luckiest Girl Alive" by Jessica Knoll. I'm about mid-way through and it's taking me forever to finish. Anyone else read this thing? I think it's taking me so long because the protagionist is kind of a bitch. She's a bitch for some very good reasons, but it's still hard for me read about her. This book is completely throwing off my book-a-week average as I think it's taken me three weeks to read so far. Sigh. I'll plow through it this week, but just FYI - not every book on these lists are good.
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