Me Before You is one of those books that has been ripped apart by outrage culture due to its popularity. Did I enjoy this book? Yes! I loved it and cried an hour after it ended. It’s one of my favorite books of all time now. Does it deserve the criticism it received? Yea sure. Anything deserves fair criticism. I have realized a trend in people denouncing books before reading them. For example, the outrage that Outlander managed to receive.
Let me start off first with what I loved about this book. It’s not necessarily a romance novel. The romance takes a huge backseat in this story. It’s heavily character driven. Louisa and Will are my favorite fictional pairing. I won’t say couple because (spoiler) it never really happens. At least not in the book. I would like to state first that I haven’t seen the movie and I feel no need to. All of the characters are amazing. Even Louisa’s dweeb of a boyfriend. Jojo Moyes’ writing is simple but colorful. Straight to the point but haunting in some passages.
Now, I am an able-bodied person. So what I experienced while reading this is likely not comparable to what a disabled person might experience. I thought this book did a great job at highlighting how our everyday life functions and navigation isn’t readily accessible to disabled people. I don’t think this book sensationalized Will’s disability either. So when I hear that particular criticism I’m wondering if I’ve even read the same book. Will was an amazing character. We often talk about the need for diversity and Will I think, deserves a lot more credit as a disabled, smart, handsome, and witty character. In the book, it even explains that there was a point in time where Will was confident in his circumstances. He tried to live his life, but he could no longer regulate his body temperature, anything could trigger pneumonia, and his health was slowly debilitating. He would never get better.
How Louisa and the Turners handle Will’s decision is part of an important point that Moyes was trying to make. No one agrees with Will’s decision. Not a single person. Louisa even talks to other quadriplegics with varying opinions and experiences on a forum. Which is another thing people seem to ignore, but once again. I haven’t seen the movie so I don’t know if this is left out.
If Will had decided to live, people would still be upset that a woman made his life meaningful to him. Regardless of how this story ended, some people were still going to be upset.
I loved this book, but everyone is entitled to their opinion. Even those who haven’t even bothered to pick it up.
The entire point of this book, I think, was about Will’s autonomy. And if you read the book, then you know what I mean. I can’t properly articulate how I feel and I’m aware that I’m speaking from a place of privilege.
TLDR; Even though there has been controversy surrounding Me Before You, I do recommend everyone to give it a try and if it makes you uncomfortable then you can at least say that you gave it a shot. It was worth the time.
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