An "awful" 5 star read I won't soon forget

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes

Opening Line: “There are 158 steps between the bus stop and home, but it can stretch to 180 if you aren’t in a hurry, like maybe if you`re wearing platform shoes.”

Oh my gawd, What an awful, awful book. **I say with tears streaming down my face, a knot in my chest, eyes bloodshot from lack of sleep and the tiniest of smiles on my face** --5 minutes after finishing--

Wow, okay it’s been a few days now since I finished this “awful” book and while I have  recovered somewhat from the gut wrenching experience of ME BEFORE YOU, I still haven`t been able to get the story out of my head.

This was an utterly absorbing read that challenged me to examine my own life and choices. It is thought-provoking and entertaining, heartbreaking and poignant and impossible to put down. Filled with vibrant characters it captures the complexities of love but at its heart it’s a story about life. About living and living well, taking life by the horns and using the hell out of it. As Will says, “Just live”.

I should start by saying that I knew next to nothing about the story going in (which I recommend) and also that within the first few chapters thought I had the whole thing figured out (which I didn`t) I just assumed it was going to be your basic chick-lit; you know, a bumbling, relatable heroine, a cast of somewhat eccentric secondary characters including meddling siblings and drunken BFF’s tied together with a love story. I thought it would be a cute, clever read. Ultimately yes, it was all these things but… It was also about halfway in that I became aware that I was no longer reading the book I thought I was. That I was dealing with a very controversial and sensitive subject, that I was being tested, challenged and changed and that the ending (oh my god she’s not going to go there is she?) was going to hurt like hell.

Will Traynor is a handsome, high-powered takeover specialist in London who sleeps with beautiful women and travels the world. Skiing, bungee jumping, mountain climbing, basically just looking for the next great adrenaline rush. His life has always been one of wealth, privilege and adventure until one rainy morning when a motorcycle accident renders him a quadriplegic and places him back on his parent’s estate in need of 24 hour care.

In the same small town Louisa Clarke lives with her financially strapped family (who are hilarious and I loved) dates a man she assumes she’ll marry but isn`t honestly all that bothered either way and is more than satisfied with her modest job at the Buttered Bun Café. She doesn`t want or expect much from her life but all that’s about to change.

When Lou suddenly loses her job she finds herself with no qualifications and a family that’s depending on her for a paycheque. With few options she finds herself at the job center where she reluctantly agrees to an interview as a caretaker. Really, she’s to be more of a paid companion; she won’t have to do any of the medical things just “be” with her charge. Easier said than done though, Will Traynor is a bitter, depressed, intimidating and hostile man.

Granted he is confined to his motorised wheelchair and in constant pain, with only limited movement of his neck and one hand. And there’s the fact that he seems to have lost any sort of freedom or decision making from his harsh mother. But still, he won’t even talk to her. How is she going to get through her six month contract like this?

So this “awful” book has easily become one of the best I’ve read this year. Thank you JoJo Moyes.