Tag Archives: living to the fullest

Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

2 1/2 Stars

Louisa Clark finds herself without a job.  Her family depends on her paycheck to keep them afloat and without it, there is tension within the family.  She goes through a series of dead-end jobs and those that simply don’t fit.  Somehow, she lands a job as a care-taker for a quadriplegic man named Will Traynor.  The Traynor family are well-known in town and are quite fabulous and wealthy.  Will was an extremely active man who took life by the horns and lived every day to the fullest.  Injured in a freak accident, he is now confined to a wheelchair and must depend on others for his basic care.

Will has decided that this life he’s living is one that he’d rather not.  He has made a decision to take his life and his care into his own hands.  But what he didn’t count on was Louisa Clark.  He couldn’t have imagined in his wildest dreams that this colorful and chatty woman will change his life just as she can’t imagine that this abrasive and rude man will change hers in ways unimaginable.

My opinion of this book is quite different from pretty much everyone else.  Since the movie was announced, everyone has been falling all over themselves with praise for this book.  I can respect their opinions and can even see why many have rated it much higher.  But I just couldn’t get there.  There were too many things that annoyed me for me to give it anything higher than my 2 1/2 stars.  The plot wasn’t lacking, the writing wasn’t lacking.  It for me, it was the characters.

One of the main characters is Louisa Clark, alternately known as Lou or Clark.  She is a 26 year old woman who seems to have no ambition in life other than to dress herself in the most garish and outrageous outfits she possibly can.  She is immature, selfish and resentful.  Due to incidents that happened to her in the past, she refuses to even try to do anything that might better her life or the lives of those around her.  She engages in fights with her sister that I outgrew when I was in my teens.  She is in a relationship with a man that’s going nowhere and she does nothing to help it one way or the other.  I almost feel sorry for Patrick, especially when she whines about how he changed from a doughy couch potato into a hard-bodied runner.  Really?!

Louisa has absolutely no marketable skills beyond being able to make a cup of tea, smile and chatter on about nothing.  How she landed an interview as a care-taker in the first place is a bit of a stretch.  But being hired!?  She has absolutely no experience whatsoever but is hired by this wealthy family to look after their severely disabled son?  Not on your life.  I understand wanting someone who is not a stuffy, old Nurse Ratched, but come on.  It was such a stretch of the imagination for me that it really did detract from the storyline.  I just couldn’t get past it.

Will and Louisa don’t get off to a very good start.  He’s quite abrasive and rude, and I can empathize here because knowing the kind of life that he lived prior to his accident, I don’t think I would exactly be a ray of sunshine either.  He’s battling to take control of his life against the wishes of his family and the last thing that he wants is someone new intruding into his life and trying to wrest control away from him once again.  But he really is a jerk.

I know that a lot of people have a real issue with the elephant in the room.  Will wants to take ultimate control of his life and be the person who decides when it ends.  Everyone is going to have an argument either for or against the right to die.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion.  What I didn’t like was how Will tries to take control of Louisa’s life.  Will is telling Louisa that she needs to live.  She needs to not settle and live her life as fully as possible.  I can empathize with how Will is feeling in his present condition, but isn’t it a little more than hypocritical to tell someone how to live their life when you are begging for control of your own?  And how can you be so emphatic that someone go out and LIVE when you are counting down the days until you can die?  I don’t know, for me it just didn’t jive.

I will admit that I cried and that I did find some of the later interactions between Will and Louisa to be very touching and very tender.  I think that they did bring each other happiness for a brief period of time.  I was very surprised with the ending, especially given everything that led up to it.  I’m not sure what the message was that the author was trying to get across because with the way that the story ended, the message really became quite muddled and far too many people came away with what I think was probably the wrong message.

I will say that each person is going to get something different from this story.  This was just my opinion.  I would recommend that you pick it up and read it.  This was a well-written story, I just had some issues I couldn’t get over.  I will probably take up the sequel just to see what happens to Louisa after the epilogue.

 

 

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Review: Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagán

2.5 Stars

Disclosure: I received this book as a Kindle First book, this in no way impacted my opinion of the book

Libby Miller is described as the eternal optimist.  She views life through rose-colored glasses.  But when her husband drops a bombshell on the same day that she’s given devastating news from her doctor, she realizes that those same rose-colored glasses that helped her get through her life have been blinding her.  Libby believes she now has nothing to lose, so she abandons her life in Chicago and runs off to the beaches of a small island off Puerto Rico for what she believes will be her last hurrah.  She tries to outrun and escape her past, her present and the undetermined future.  But things don’t always work out the way that she believes they should and in the end, that’s probably a good thing.  Libby has a choice to make, will it be the right one?

I had trouble identifying with Libby and I think a little more work could have been done in making her a more sympathetic and believable character.  She did redeem herself somewhat near the end, but there were many times where I just wanted to reach through and smack her upside the head for being a selfish twit.  Some of the supporting cast were somewhat flat and one dimensional, they were either way over-the-top (Paul) or they were almost a caricature (Jackie).  My favorite character was actually Libby’s love interest, Shiloh.  He was the person I could most empathize with and I really wish more time could have been spent with Libby and Shiloh.

I wish the book had been longer.  Everything was wrapped up neatly far too soon given everything that was actually involved.  I could have done without the stabbing with a fork and biting friends on the shoulder, but I did like that there was dark humor injected throughout the book and that it really didn’t seem to take itself too seriously even though several serious topics are discussed.  It was a good “light read” well suited for a day where you want to curl up and lose yourself for a couple hours.

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