Book Reviews

Me before you – Jojo Moyes

00-29-16-Me-Before-You

I watched the trailer of the film based on this book last month and was really looking forward to seeing the movie, mostly because the leading roles are my favorite actor and actress (Sam Clifton & Emilia Clarke). But not until June will it be released, so I decide to read the book first, preparing myself for any line of thoughts that the movie may not be able to deliver. And also, reading the book while matching the faces/places/lines with those in the trailer makes me feel more connected with Sam & Emilia, and that quite pleases me :”>

At first, I thought this is just another love story with some kind of imaginary details that most girls are “bloody” fond of: He – handsome, wealthy, intelligent, a little bit cold at first but then becomes so sweet and caring; She – cute, warm, funny, poor, stupid (again, at first and then turns out to be quite uniquely smart). Of course, it’s so easy to think about a happy ending for that couple, sooner or later they’re gonna be together, fighting all difficult issues for their happiness. With that in mind, I found this story really boring at first and kept complaining that without images of Sam & Emilia in my head when reading, I could not make it till the end. But the ending is truely a good one. It’s more realistic than I expected, psychologically. So instead of giving the book 3/5, I could make it 4/5 for the last 5 chapters only.

However, this (the book’s success to me) makes me a little nervous as the movie may not be the same or (just a faint feeling) Sam may not picture Will correctly since this is really an emotionally complicated character.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Talking about Will, well, this is a very interesting man. As I said, he’s rich and glorious. He used to enjoy his life to the fullest by devoting all his mind to everything he did. He had worked hard and played hard. So perfect! And then the accident changed his life forever by depriving him of his ability to move the body down from his chest. His daily life now had to stick to wheelchair and depend on others until the very last day of it. No matter how hard he tried, he was just unrecoverable. How could a man with the splendid background ever accept that fact and compromise to live like that? So he decided to end his life even when he knew his family would be broken after that. He failed. Then he made a pact with his mother to grant her 6 months more to agree with his decision and let him go. That 6 months was the time he met Louisa, who made his last months more colorful and cheerful by talking to him, understanding him, and of course, loving him. She tried her best to change his mind by making plans to make him happy, in the hope that he would find life still worth living even in his stuck situation. She was so hopeful when she told Will she loved him, but Will just said “It’s not enough”. Well, that’s rude, I agree. But I think it’s the problem of words. Will didn’t mean her love meant nothing to him or she did no impact on his miserable life. This is the part when I fell in love with Will immediately when he tried to explain to Louisa:

‘The thing is, I get that this could be a good life. I get that with you around, perhaps it could even be a very good life. But it’s not my life. I am not the same as these people you speak to. It’s nothing like the life I want. Not even close.’ His voice was halting, broken. His expression frightened me.

I swallowed, shaking my head. ‘You… you once told me that the night in the maze didn’t have to be the thing that defined me. You said I could choose what it was that defined me. Well, you don’t have to let that… that chair define you.’

‘But it does define me, Clark. You  don’t know me, not really. You never saw me before this thing. I loved my life, Clark. Really loved it. I loved my jobs, my travels, the things I was. I loved being a physical person. I liked riding my motorbike, hurling myself off buildings. I liked crushing people in business deals. I liked having sex. Lots of sex. I led a big life.’ His voice had lifted now. ‘I am not designed to exist in this thing – and yet for all intents and purposes it is now the thing that defines me. It is the only thing that defines me.

‘But you’re not even giving it a chance,’ I whispered. My voice didn’t seem to want to emerge from my chest. ‘You’re not giving me a chance.’

‘It’s not a matter of giving you a chance. I’ve watched you these six months becoming a whole different person, someone who is only just beginning to see her possibilities. You have no idea how happy that has made me. I don’t want you to be tied to me, to my hospital appointments, to the restrictions on my life. I don’t want you to miss out on all the things someone else could give you. And selfishly, I don’t want you to look at me one day and feel even the tiniest bit of regret or pity that -‘

‘I would never think that!’

‘You don’t know that, Clark. You have no idea how this would play out. You have no idea how you’re going to feel even six months from now. And I don’t want to look at you every day, to see you naked, to watch you wandering around the annexe in your crazy dresses and not… not be able to do what I want with you. Oh, Clark, if you had any idea what I want to do to you right now. And I… I can’t live with that knowledge. I can’t. It’s not who I am. I can’t be the kind of man who just …accepts.’

So you see. That’s the Will I loved, sounds a bit selfish and heartless but actually just so thoughtful and courageous. He wanted to kill himself to end the pain for everyone (himself and his beloved) instead of making it a pain that’ll never end. I was shocked when reading this part, not because it’s beyond my imagination, but because I was dreaming of that Will and I did not have a slightest hope that the author could describe him that way, but she did, thanks Jojo! And just so you know, from this very part, I no longer read because of Sam or Emilia, I read because I cared about Will and Louisa. And that’s explain my mentioned fear as I didn’t see that Will in Sam. Hope I was wrong! 🙂

P/s: The song “Photograph” by Ed Sheeran so fits in this story. Seriously, I loved that song months before the trailer came out. After reading this book, I think I love it more for now it has a story attached.

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