I actually started reading this book at the end of February and finished it in March. It was just a matter of me setting aside a couple hours straight to power through.
I decided to follow the book review style from Mr. Thomas and Me’s Collaboreads.
I really enjoyed the voice this story was told in; I like that we predominantly had Lu’s perspective, but also enjoyed the chapters where we got in the minds of some of the other characters. I found Lu learning that it’s okay to step outside of her insular world a story that resonates with my generation and friends, but I really enjoyed how she came to care for the man she was employed to care for, first as a patient, then as a friend, and then as someone she loved deeply for how he pushed her out of her comfort zone.
Honestly, I think the most relatable parts of the characters were that they were of similar age to my friends and I, so they were talking about similar issues. I found the characters I actually had the most compassion for were the characters that seemed so cold, namely Mrs. Traynor, her husband, and Will’s sister Georgina. I have walked beside one of my friend’s family as she was dying from brain cancer and so I know that processing grief comes in many forms, something that has been ingrained even further in my study to become a counselor. I also have a perception from the British literature and cinema I have been exposed to that people in their economic class have a harder time letting the outside world in to their emotional turmoil, which could have been another reason these characters came off “cold” to an American perspective.
The plot was interesting; I feel like I saw the past suicide attempt coming based on Will’s behavior and everyone treating him as fragile. I was not expecting the family to travel to Switzerland to engage in euthanasia, but I understood why that plot line made sense for the heart of the story. It is a decision that I do not personally agree with, but I understand Will’s reasoning for choosing that path.
Writing style and tone, it reminded me of Lauren Weisberger and Sophie Kinsella. It was easy to read and something that could be picked up or put down easily, but kept you interested throughout.
If anything, this book took me back to our country’s discussion around Brittany Maynard and all of the various perspectives and responses to her choice, and the continuing discussion around whether euthanasia should be legal.
The cover of the books gives absolutely nothing away about the contents, which was a pleasant surprise. I think the most intriguing part of the cover is obviously the title, which has a variety of interpretations. I believe the title applies to both Will and Lu. Prior to Lu entering Will’s life, he was ready to be done – he saw no hope or reason to live any longer. Lu brought him joy, adventure, love and peace in his final 6 months on earth, something that I believe made it easier for both he and his family to accept when the day came that he chose to leave the earth. In Lu’s case, Will brought her light, saw her for who she was and the potential she had been pushing deep inside herself; he showed her what it means to truly live and encouraged her to get out of their town and see the world, thus becoming a very different person than who she was when the book began.
Stars. I give this book 3.5 stars. I really enjoyed it for what it was, but I have read so many stronger books, that it is difficult for me to give this book any higher of a score.
This book was actually recommended by a friend, and most of my friends who I believe would enjoy this book have already read it. I do think I will pass it along though as it is set to be a film shortly and I believe that will stir up interest in other friends looking for something new to read.
I’m looking forward to seeing the film when it comes on video after its theatrical release more for the cast even than the story itself – the cast is just so full of actors that I enjoy and I think they will be able to convey this story in a really lovely way.
Have you read Me Before You? What did you think of the book?