Post-Reading: Me Before You

In Me Before You, Will’s parting message to Louisa is “Just live well. Just live.” This somehow translates to Louis reading a postmortem letter from Will at a café on Rue des Francs-Bourgeois in Paris, eating a croissant and drinking coffee. On one hand, I know that what it means to “just live” is different for all of us. I’m constantly trying to figure out what it means, and of course I have no idea. On the other hand, this books tells the story of a young man who commits suicide after enduring a horrible accident and its aftermath. The book ends with a girl tearing up over a letter at a café before going on a Parisian adventure. I don’t know about other readers, but girl-in-Paris-café did not give me the closure I needed for this very heavy, emotional book.
 
That being said, I think Jojo Moyes makes it easier for the reader to accept Will’s decision to end his life by making him such an intelligent and consistent character. Despite flashes of happy moments with Louisa, he never wavers from his decision. Will convinced me that he knew what he wanted and that he deserved to receive it. But did he convince all readers? I doubt it. That’s what makes Me Before You such a worthwhile read, because you have the opportunity to gauge your reaction to an incredibly serious issue within the safe space of a book. Do we have the right to choose death for ourselves? If so, at what point does it become appropriate? I know, heavy stuff. So to be able to explore the idea, even within the confines of a book, is quite an experience.

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Currently Reading: Me Before You

I’ve started Me Before You by British writer Jojo Moyes. I may soon put to rest good ol’ Contemporary Fiction, as my reading selection has developed a one-track mind, and variety is always a good thing.
 
We meet Will Traynor as a young, wealthy businessman who makes a playground of the world. He travels, dates beautiful women, treks mountains, skydives, and participates in other bucket list appropriate activities. One morning he is struck by a motorbike while crossing the street, leaving him a quadriplegic. Two years after the accident, Will makes no secret of his wish to die. Me Before You chronicles the supposed final six months of his life, before his wish to die is to be fulfilled. 26-year-old Louisa Clark, born and raised in the same small English town, is hired to look after him during this time.
 
It is oft-proved that books written by women that involve relationships, emotions (God forbid!), and contemporary life are disdainfully labeled chick-lit. Books written by men that cover similar topics are often praised as emotionally astute, sensitive, or sweeping. Remember the “white male literary darlings” debacle? Jojo Moyes has this to say: “I have read books that are so clichéd and lazy, my eyes have bled. But I have also read books marketed under the chick-lit umbrella that are so honest, clever and gritty that I’ve wanted to give up writing and paint walls instead.” Here’s to hoping that her own Me Before You gives the painting walls feeling.

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