So I’ve been out of education (for the first time since I was 4) for about three months now and I have to say I don’t quite know what to do with myself. When I was at Uni I had so many reading assignments thrust upon me on a weekly basis that I almost never had time to read for pleasure; tragically I found that when I did I just couldn’t stand the thought of reading anything more. I don’t know if anyone else suffered this lapse in bibliophile faith but it has thrown me into quite the stupor! In a desperate attempt to recover my fragile relationship with books I had a google a week or so ago to check out the ‘book charts’ and see what people were into. Impulsively I ordered (what I assumed to be a either a cheesy love story or a generic tale of loss) Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You.
Me Before You – Jojo Moyes (SPOILER ALERT)
This book was the first I managed to read after finishing my degree. After 3 years of instructed reading it was difficult to rekindle (e-reader pun – you’re welcome) my love of the written word. That being said, I also endured conflicting feelings of longing towards literature and was desperate to read something, anything to keep myself in contact with the places you lose when you only spend time in reality. I settled on Me Before You namely because of its popularity but also because it was very different to the kinds of books i’d been reading at University.
To be honest I hadn’t expected to enjoy the story that much so in a way I set myself up for disappointment. I assumed it to be a bit of a holiday read (I didn’t really research it) & being a GOT fan, I was also quite keen to see Emilia Clarke’s portrayal in the film adaptation.
Louisa is a small town girl who takes on a new role, caring for a quadriplegic man named Will. The story progresses at a fairly standard pace given the limited setting and as expected a romance begins to spark between the two of them. Fab, lovely, a good read except something niggled in the back of my head about the way Will was presented and the way his views seem to taint the overall meaning of the book. “Live Boldly, Live Well, Just Live,” was the slogan the film used; Will kills himself. The entire novel concerns itself with the tragedy of his situation and the notion that life in his position is not worth living, perpetuating disability stereotypes in a bid to make readers feel sympathetic and teary-eyed enough to pre-book their cinema tickets in a heartbeat.
I feel that there was an attempt made to limit his martyrdom and the sterotypical ‘inspirational’ quality disabled characters are given in narratives like this but something was lost in an attempt to manufacture a ‘heartwarming, tearjerker’ and I found it a little disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, I read it, i enjoyed it and I cried – I only have an issue with its message.
All in all, I have to give the book credit as I finished it despite my original misgivings with reading and I did enjoy the plot, up until a point. I don’t know that it deserves 100% of the attention it received but it was none-the-less well written and worth reading – if only to have your say on the disability debacle.
What do you think? Am I being overly critical or reading into this too deeply? Let me know in the comments.