15507958Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book missed the mark for me. I’m not entirely sure why I decided to read it in the first place, other than that it was a cheap-ish Kindle book that seemed to be somewhat well-reviewed. (I didn’t want to haul hardcovers with me while traveling.)

Anyway. So, the book is about a directionless young woman who loses her job and ends up, somehow, caring for a wealthy disabled man. Somehow, she is selected to look after him in rather a strange way, despite being, as far as I can tell, entirely boring. Her very first concern is that she is not a nurse, but the man’s mother and her employer reassures her that he has a nurse, and doesn’t need that kind of care.

We are left in suspense about what kind of care he needs, for a while, and she hangs out with him a bit but largely avoids him. Through a few twists and turns, we discover he wants to end his own life as a result of his disabilities, but has promised his mother he will wait six months to do so, and so, she hires our heroine to change his mind, without telling said heroine exactly what the situation was.

There are a lot of unanswered questions in this book. Why on earth was Lou hired? All that her employer knew about her was that she didn’t know how to dress for an interview. Was she cute? Was there something she said or did off-camera, so to speak, that convinced her employer?

And what caused her to eventually grow to like her charge? I feel like I’m not really presented with a case for liking Will. He’s (rightfully) kind of a bitter asshole. We feel bad for him, because of his lot in life, but that doesn’t make him someone you could be friends with. Does Lou grow to like him just because she so deeply opposes his wishes for a merciful end to his life?

It’s a feel-good tale that explores assisted suicide and disability. It’s an interesting subject, but I don’t think the book really did it justice. I think that Lou grows to like Will because of his disability, not because he’s a particularly nice or sweet person. (His initial frostiness towards her verges on negging, at times.) Lou is so daft – quitting her job when she finds out it’s all about talking him out of suicide, despite the fact that what she wants is for him not to kill himself. There were just some things that didn’t really connect for me.

It’s not unbelievable to me that someone could develop a deep friendship or romantic feelings for someone who is severely disabled. What IS unbelievable to me is that they could do so, without the object of their affection displaying any good qualities whatsoever. It was a weird book, and could have used some more work to convince the audience that these characters actually had motivations for the things they felt.

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