15 July 2014

book review: me before you

me before you by jojo moyes

this was quite possibly the most stunningly beautiful and heart-wrenching book i've ever read.  it made me cry streaming tears, clearly an outward reflection of my emotion more powerful than any words i could find to utter.  but i'll try!

i know i get caught up in my own life: my routine, my abilities, my hopes for some distant future.  i'm brought down out of my own head when i interact with one of my residents who has suffered from multiple strokes, who cannot ambulate independently and must use a power wheelchair with controls manipulated with one working hand, who asks me to remove the cap from a tube of chapstick or make a special mug of hot chocolate that frustrates other staff because it means extra time devoted to this one task when there are hundreds of others to complete.  i get out of my head when i walk heads above one of my residents whose wheelchair is the primary form of transportation now after a leg amputation, both of mine still working perfectly fine, carrying me from task to task, objective to objective, searching for the words in my heart to acknowledge that home may never be place of return, that my nursing facility may be the place where the rest of what could have been (i'm sure of it) an energetic and engaged life must now be lived.

this book, too, brought me back down.  it's love story for sure, but not in the typical boy-meets-girl easy-going romance.  i like those types of happy stories because they're safe and they give me a world to escape into that doesn't seem too far-fetched from what could be in my own life.  this book didn't afford that lighthearted reality of love between two able-bodied individuals.  but that's not always really real life, right?  i think that's why this book hit me so hard - and why i loved it so much.

me before you is about a sheltered, stuck young woman, louisa, who lost her menial job and is forced to find another job to support her family.  with no qualifications whatsoever, she accepts an ad to become a caregiver for a quadriplegic man named will.  he has a sharp mind and a witty tongue but is trapped in a body that has failed him, like i see with so many of my residents every day.  she breaks through to him and they develop a mutually-beneficial relationship, but the man has already made up his mind that his life as a quad is not a life that is his despite everyone trying to convince him otherwise... and louisa has to decide whether it's worth the effort to keep trying to make him see beauty, fun, and how love can be possible in this new life of his or to let him take over the controls and make that decision for himself.

i don't like to read reviews of books i've already read because i don't want others opinions to taint the feeling i was personally left with after reading a book - and for the same reason i try to keep my reviews here pretty simplistic and vague so i don't insert too many of my own opinions that you may carry with you if you decide to read one of the books i've reviewed.  so i'll just add that i would simply recommend this book if you want to be moved.  if you want to transport yourself into someone else's shoes for a while.  and if you want to read about a different perspective of love in what could only be described as the toughest catch-22 you'll hope you never have to experience for yourself.

(side note:  don't read this book if you're not prepared for bawling like a baby at the very end!)

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