For the longest time I have been wanting to expand my blog. Add a variety of things without diluting its true essence. Since I don’t fancy myself a food or travel expert, like many other fashion bloggers, I could not branch out into those genres.
I decided to go with something that I am extremely passionate about as well as have quite a bit of knowledge about the subject. Nothing better than books fits the bill perfectly!
I have always loved books and reviewing it comes naturally to me. However, unlike my Lit days where the book review was more structured and technical this one is purely on an emotional level.
I have met people whose lives have changed after reading Dante's Inferno or Charles Darwin’s The Descent of Man. Their whole outlook on life changed. I never really experienced that with either of those two writers or their works; or many others, for that matter.
Little did I know, a modern day novel would have a profound impact on me. Never did I imagine, that after reading the book I would start seeing life through a whole new spectrum.
My experience during and after reading Me Before You, by British writer Jojo Moyes, compelled me to write about it.
For my first every book review on the blog I decided to start with Me Before You. It is my first book by Jojo Moyes and it has left me wanting, no craving, for more!
On the surface level, the novel tells the poignant story of two diametrically opposite people put together in a difficult situation and their journey through it.
Louisa ‘Lou’ Clark, “one of the invisibles”, British girl hired to care for, William ‘Will’ Traynor, a bitter quadriplegic.
There is nothing new about this storyline. What makes this book stand out is how Jojo Moyes has shaped her characters and their struggles to bring to life an emotional, romantic and grounded in reality story to life.
While elements of fantasy and romance are interweaved into the story, at no point does it ever lose its grip on reality.
Moyes manages to walk the fine line between romantic fantasy and reality. At no point did one side infringe on the other.
She does not mislead us into believing otherwise not did she sugarcoat the hard part. Like Will, Lou and everyone else, the readers too have to face the hard parts.
Here’s how Moyes aced the hardest part of the book. She did not get harsh or overly emotional about it. She dealt it with the finesse it required. And like Lou, the readers experienced the worst of heartache in a sublime manner that is heartbreaking and cathartic.
One of the many reasons why I loved Me Before You with such a passion is, I have never connected with a character as strongly as I did with Lou. (The last time I made such a strong connection with a character, it was Jamila from Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia)
Most of times you could replace Lou with Amena. Like Lou, I am a creature of familiar. I don’t like taking risk or stepping out of my comfort. I dislike change of any kind.
I completely connected with Lou and her inherent qualities and personal struggles.
Lou is the quintessential girl next door, living in a small English town with her parents and sister and dating a guy who is more interested in marathons than her.
She has been working in the same job for years and had the café she worked in not shut, she would have worked there forever. Loss of employment and her parents’ financial crunch makes her take up the job of Will’s caretaker.
From their first meet, Will makes it very clear that Lou is not wanted and he makes sure she knows it too.
Lou knows she is unwelcome and is ready to leave until she finds out the reason why she has been hired. The reason not only shakes her but also makes her determine to make sure things don’t go as Will's plan.
In the process of doing this, Lou, with the help of Will, truly discovers herself. And through Lou, Will gets to partly relive the life he once had.
Will makes her realise that even though she is physically fit as a fiddle, she’s emotionally paralysed. For almost 7 year she has let a past incident hold her back- from exploring and living her life to the fullest.
In contrast to Lou, Will, who for the past two years has be prisoned within the four wheels of his wheelchair, due to a motorbike accident, is constantly buzzing. His body may not function like it used to, but his mind is a livewire. He introduces Lou to new authors, foreign cinema and the world beyond. He shows Lou her real potentials and what she is missing. He pushes, until she herself is desirous of wanting more.
In may ways Will reminds me of Augustus ‘Gus’ Waters from The Fault in Our Stars. Both men are in the peak of their life-Gus in his teens, Will in his youth, when they both become victims of fate that change their lives forever.
While their personalities differ- Gus full of life, Will bitter- in their own way they help the women they love discover herself and grown. They open new horizons for the women in their lives by showing them the joys of life and living their life to the fullest.
Will’s sharp wit and intelligent personality radiates through out the book, it is when he is put in the same room as Lou’s overly fit boyfriend does one see his real charisma and the glimmer of the man he was before the accident.
While Patrick tries and fails to impress Lou and her family with his marathon stories, it is Will, with just his words and kind act that manages to leave them all enthralled.
The clever juxtaposing of the two-Will in a wheelchair yet dynamic and Patrick, robust and virile, yet dull and boring-by Moyes is one of the best scenes in the book.
The best part about the book is the title: Me Before You.
The title with the briefest of words captures the true essence of the book. In three small words it says it all- putting my life, my need, wants, desires and choices before you or anyone else and not feeling guilty about it.
This can only happen if one has the freedom and power of making their own choices. The central theme of the book is power of choice. The freedom to make those decisions for yourself and not feels guilty about it.
And staying true to the title, Will does put himself before everyone else who loves him and no one can really do anything about it except support him.
While exercising his rights to do with his life as he pleases he teaches Lou a very valuable lesson. He liberates her from her inhibitions and pushes her to explore the unknown and to live her life to its fullest potential.
There is a lot more I can write about this book. I rather you read and explore it on your own. For a book like Me Before You stays with you for a long time. You don’t want it to end and yet you can’t wait to find out how the story unfolds. This book is my favourite one of 2015.
I have tried to keep my review different from the run of the mill kind. I hope you all like it.
Till then, tra-la,