Friday, July 1, 2016

June 2016 #OABookClub: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

Welcome back! In June, the members of Operation Awesome read Me Before You by JoJo Moyes.


The writing itself seems to be well done. The characters are fleshed out properly. I could have done without the head-hopping chapters. It made me miss Paris, but for me, I understand the way that Will misses Paris, and feel similarly to him on the subject.

I'm not going to debate if life was "bad enough" for a fictional character. I can think of a dozen ways to write it to make it worse. There are events that separate a person from the rest of humanity. Scars so deep they prevent us from ever being like everyone else. This book discusses three of them with an emotional abandon rarely braved.

The book has inevitable spiritual and scientific debates. I've been drawn into heated debates about euthanasia and the appropriate or acceptable amounts of medically scientific interference that should be permitted for two decades now. This review of a fictional book is not going to contain my encyclopedia-worth of knowledge on the topics. The book is fiction. Besides, the book seems to have covered every angle of those debates. One of the primary characters is diverse only in the sense that he has a severe medical condition. I found other minor characters in the story who had similar afflictions to Will, but who lived very different lives than he did.

I would like to remind everyone not to feed bread to ducks. Seeds and lettuce in moderation are okay.


I have tried to read two of Jojo Moyes' books before (The Ship of Brides and The Girl You Left Behind), and I couldn't get into either one of them. Both ended up on my DNF shelf on Goodreads. I'm not sure what it was about Me Before You that kept my attention, but it was probably the voice of the main character. I liked her from the start, and so was able to stay hooked. I liked all of the characters, really, even the ones whose choices irritated me. Everyone felt real to me.

I also liked how Lou gradually fell for Will. I hate instalove, especially in situations like this one where Will is fairly horrible to Lou at first.

The ending gutted me. I knew how it would end; with the movie out, spoilers are all over the place. So I was prepared for it, but still ended up bawling like my daughter when her binkie gets taken away. I do not think that Will made the right choice. I think his life was worth living, and choosing to die was selfish and prideful. I don't agree with assisted suicide because of my religious beliefs, so that bias was obviously there, but really. I find it hard to believe that anyone would sympathize with Will's choice. Still, people do.

Which is why I think this makes a good book club book. There are a wide range of opinions on assisted suicide, and the book could be a good jumping-off point for a discussion on the practice.

I'm not sure I would read this one again (even though I read books over and over), but I liked it while I read it. Four stars.


Next Book of the Month: August

For July, we're taking a little break from the Book Club due to vacations and general summer craziness in our lives. Come back at the beginning of August to find out what we're reading!

#LesMisRead2016 Update from Samantha

Perhaps I should just re-title this segment "Worst Year Ever Update from Samantha." Since last we met, my father was diagnosed with a (thankfully, very treatable) form of cancer, and I suffered a back sprain from my lingering injury when I was pregnant two years ago. I don't know if you're aware of the difficulty of motivating yourself to read something somewhat challenging while experiencing the pain of a back injury and stress about the health of your parent, but...

OK, so for some happy news: I've joined the slush reading team of Flash Fiction Online! I'm planning on doing a post here one of these days on things I've already learned from slushing. I've only done it for a little over a month, but already I know it's improving my writing dramatically--mostly around ideas and approaches to my stories. We all know the oft-repeated cliche beginnings of novels, but there are cliche ideas (which come in and out of fashion, in fact) that run through slush piles. It's interesting to see those.

So, um, all that to say: I'm getting there. I will finish reading Les Miserables in 2016 if I'm skimming the end while the ball drops for 2017. But I'm behind. Again.

Thanks for stopping by. Let us know what you thought of Me Before You in the comments!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really liked the book and disliked the ending. I somehow managed to finish it before the ending was spoiled, so I think my experience would have been different if I'd known the ending all along. I don't like Will's choice but have never been in his shoes and don't believe in telling other people what to do with their own lives. However all the outcry from the disabled community is valid, and I definitely don't want to tell them how to feel, either. But it was a well-written story and I loved Louisa's voice. I agree with you about the unnecessary head-jumping and how great the slow-burn love was. I will probably read the sequel at some point!