Jun 30 2016

OA Book Club Review @OpAwesome6 of Me Before You #NewToYou2016

4 star rating image on the blog of @JLenniDorner

The writing itself seems to be well done. The characters are fleshed out properly. I could have done without the head-hopping chapters.

Will talks about Paris, and what it’s like to know he’ll never be able to experience it the same way again. It’s the reason most of us don’t spend inordinate amounts of times with our ex-lovers. Good memories are too easy to replace with horrors.

My viewpoint is going to be different from most people. Or, at least, from the loud voices I’ve heard/ read online. Were this not an OA book club book, I probably wouldn’t write a review at all.

Professor Charles Xavier of the X-men There seems to be quite a bit of Internet outrage over the fact that Will doesn’t have enough in common with Professor X. Will isn’t hero enough, his ending isn’t like the one Charles has in X-Men: Apocalypse, and he doesn’t deal as well as the Professor does despite being equally wealthy. Well… if you WANT those traits in your wheelchair-bound character, this isn’t the book for you!

Thinking about how much worse it can get, and knowing it almost certainly will. That’s what chapter seventeen brings. It separates “the living” from “the dying,” because it’s so incomprehensible for “the living” to know what it’s like. The mind isn’t meant to process such thoughts for so long. To know your end will be slow and torturous. Hell isn’t always a place you might go later, for some folks it’s where they are now. I’m not going to debate if life was “bad enough” for a fictional character. I can think of a dozen ways to write it to make it worse. But that isn’t going to change the discussion.

That same chapter then slams into the reader with the truth of how it feels to have a whole other kind of choice taken away from you. And how that can feel like your fault. And, to top it off, how people will imply that it is your fault, even in part. (Even if you’re a seven-year-old boy who knows nothing of the subject… but that’s a topic for other books.)

There are events in life that can pull a person out of humanity. Scars so deep they prevent us from ever being like everyone else. This book sees fit to discuss that with an emotional abandon rarely braved.

I haven’t read Matt Ridley’s The Red Queen, which the book mentions several times. Possibly there are parts of the story, or a certain viewpoint, which I’m missing because I didn’t read that book first.

Chapter twenty-two starts off with what I am most familiar with when it comes to plans. Except I only know it from Will’s POV, not from Lou’s.

The lines around the eyes and the resigned expression— I’m sure those close to me could describe that perfectly. So I commend the writer for that.

Ahh, dreams. Nathan’s talk about Will’s dreams. Knowing you’ll never be yourself. Trying to figure out if you’ll still be something. Doing calculations similar to an actuarian, weighing the cost of survival against your potential worth for a given amount of time. Then measuring that against other ways the money might be spent. (Three college educations, for example.) Wondering how veterinarians make choices about what point it becomes cruel to force an animal to stay alive.

Have you left the spiritual path when you rely on science to keep death at bay? Or are medical breakthroughs and resources the divine will of a higher power, slowly gifted to humanity? One religion suggests that even needing a blood transfusion is too much and is a sign that you’re meant to be dead. Another would keep everyone alive well past the point of living, where the body is nothing more than an extension of a multitude of machines staving off decay as best they can. How much pain does a person need to be in? How little function does someone need to have left? Is it about organs? Perhaps the line is closer to when a person is no longer able to communicate and interact with the world?

“I can’t do this because… another reminder…” Thankfully, most people will never fully grasp this paragraph Will says in chapter twenty-three. Truly lucky are those who will never understand it.

I will take a moment to protest feeding bread to the ducks. That’s right, I’m okay with the euthanasia argument, as every debate side I know of seems to be represented in these pages somewhere. But the ducks? It can lead to malnutrition and weight gain problems for the waterfowl. Will has a label— DISABLED. SEVERE AND INCURABLE. The ducks still have a chance! Seeds and lettuce in moderation are approved suggestions from various groups in the know.

I read the book and found other characters who had similar afflictions to Will, but who lived very different lives than he did. And though I’m told this is classified as a romance novel, I don’t know that it fits the qualifications of the genre. Is the whole book about a romantic love? I can’t say that it is. It is about love, in various forms, as Lou experiences it. Is it as romantic as the question, “Does he ever get the girl?” in the Dashboard Confessional song This Ruined Puzzle? No.

Did anyone else look at the name “Lousia Clark” and think of Lois and Clark the Superman based TV show, or the explorers Lewis and Clark?


  1. I’ve heard a lot of the protest surrounding this book/movie, so I know how it ends, which kinda sucks! As usual, I wonder how many of those protesting have actually read the book and taken in the context of why it ended the way it did?
    Stephanie Faris has this post to share How NOT to Sell Crap on FacebookMy Profile
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    1. Yes, I’ve wondered that myself. Having actually read the book, I’ve found that several of the protests don’t “go” with the actual book. But you know what they say, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” so I suppose some people might read the book just to find out if the protest argument holds up.

    • co best on November 19, 2016 at 12:48 PM

    Wow such a great list of quotes, but after reading through my favorite has to be this one..
    “With confidence, you have won even before you have started.” Marcus Garvey
    I wish it would be so easy, to have the confidence everytime you need it :). Nice post, keep it up!

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