My tear ducts operate on a hair-trigger. I read some of David Sheff’s Beautiful Boy on a car trip and I was crying so much that my husband asked if he should pull over. Then there was the music lesson/ One Last Thing Before I Go incident. And last month I watched a whole season of Grey’s Anatomy over the course of one week and cried so much I gave myself a three-day migraine.
So when there’s a book that prompts people to say “I’ve never cried during a book until I read X”, then I’m onto it. And there is one’ tear-jerker’ that came up time and time again on ‘must-read’ lists that I hadn’t read – Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. What’s taken me so long, given that I actually like a good cry? I thought it was going to be too much.
It’s the story of Lou Clark, a quirky girl with a fondness for vintage fashion who’s lived in the same English town her whole life. Lou’s in need of a job and after exhausting all other possibilities she takes on the role as carer for Will Traynor. Will is a quadriplegic. He was once a successful investment banker with a penchant for extreme sports. Will has lost the desire to live and Lou takes it upon herself to change that.
You can probably see where this story is heading – you may be right, you may be wrong but essentially, once you start reading you know it can only go one of two ways.
Guess what? I didn’t cry. My eyes welled up at the tattoo bit and also over the bee tights (people who’ve read it will know the bits) . But the ending? No. Not a tear. So why didn’t this book have me bawling? I think it was the writing style. The writing was sufficient – it’s plain and tells the story at a decent pace. It’s not imaginative and there aren’t any particularly profound statements. However, in being straightforward, Moyes does challenge the reader to consider their definition of quality of life.
I know two people with spinal injuries. I won’t go into the details, short of saying that while they have ‘good’ lives, they are not the lives they once envisaged. Because no one ever plans to be unable to kick the footy with their kids.
2.5/5 Why all the praise for this story? Well, it’s somewhat romantic, it’s funny in parts, there’s a moral component to the story and it forces you to ask yourself “What if…”
Lou invites Will over to her family’s house for dinner. They eat roast chicken followed by chocolate mousse. Here’s my favourite chocolate mousse – it’s incredibly eighties… But it still tastes so delicious – Toblerone Chocolate Mousse.