I remember reading a lot of good reviews of the book Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes when it came out a few years ago. Somehow, it never made it into my hands then, but when I came across the ebook on sale, I snatched it up. Over the weekend I finally started reading it...and could not put it down. It's engaging, extremely well-written, thought-provoking, funny, and very sad.
Louisa (Lou) is a 26-year-old woman living in a small English town with her parents, her grandfather, her younger sister, and her sister's 5-year-old son. She has a boyfriend of six years and a job she loves at a cafe. It's a quiet life, but she's happy. Her life is shaken up when the cafe where she works closes. Job prospects in her small town are slim, and eventually comes down to a choice between pole dancing and becoming a caregiver/companion for a quadripelegic. Although neither is all that appealing, she takes the caregiver position. It's a six month assignment, and pays remarkably well. She shows up on her first day expecting an elderly client. Instead, she meets Will -- 35, beligerant, sarcastic, unhappy, and sometimes downright mean. She decides it's going to be a long six months.
Will used to live a big life -- head of an international corporation, world-traveler, adventurer, lady-charmer. He worked hard and played hard, until one rainy morning he crosses the street and gets hit by a motorcyclist. In an instant, his life shrinks to the size on his chair, his small house, and his almost constant pain and discomfort. Will refuses to accept a life that's different, to move forward and make the best of things. He views his life as a prison, and one that will only get more painful and restrictive as time goes on. Will has decided that he has only one choice that is still his to make -- the choice to live or not. And after a failed personal attempt at suicide, he's made an agreement with his parents -- six months and they'll take him to a clinic that performs medically assisted suicides.
Despite being so different, eventually the two hit it off. Lou is quirky, clever, bubbly, and transparent. She's one of the only people who Will feels treats him honestly, not walking on egg shells or making all of his choices for him. During their six months together, Will begins to open Lou's eyes to the world beyond their tiny town, and pushes her to go after what she wants, and not settle just because it's safe and comfortable. Lou brings light and laughter into Will's life, practically forcing him out of his house and reminding him that there's life beyond his four-walls. It's an unlikely relationship, but the two begin to care about each other very much.
But life doesn't always have a happy ending, and Me Before You doesn't either. At least, not in one sense. Instead, like life, the ending is...complicated.
This book deals with heavy, fairly controversial stuff. But it also has friendship and family and love. It's being made into a movie (which comes out this year or next) and the author is working on a sequel.
Bottom line: it may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I thought this book was great.