10/3/13

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes

This is going to be, without a doubt, my most personal review ever.  So hang on tight, folks ... here goes.

Me Before You seemed to be one of those sleeper hits around the blogosphere.  Several of my blogger friends raved about their love for this book (and it was Cass whose review encouraged me to pick up the book).  I'll admit that I'm a sucker for a pretty cover and, although the font on this one is pretty, it just didn't invite me in.  I went into this book totally blind, knowing that it was a favourite for some of my friends, but I had NO IDEA what the book was about.

In some ways, I wish I had read the blurb before I picked it up, because then I would have at least been prepared.  But then again, had I known that this book was about a man who was paralyzed and in a motorized wheelchair, perhaps I might have declined to pick it up.  You see, this is why this book resonated so powerfully with me: my dad has the exact same injury as Will (a spinal cord injury between C5 and C6), although it seems like Will has just a little more mobility than my dad has.  And when I got to the part where Lou finds out about Will's future plans (but I won't say anymore for fear of spoiling the story), I pretty much cried for the remainder of the book.

Here's my story: in June 2010, my dad was riding his bicycle home from work and a car pulled out in front of him.  My dad slammed on the brakes of his bicycle to avoid hitting the car, but the sudden stop propelled him over the handlebars of his bicycle and he broke his neck.  It was an accident in the truest sense of the word ... there were a multitude of factors that influenced the fact that the vehicle driver couldn't see behind him when he pulled into the bike lane, but the result of the accident is that my dad is now in a motorized wheelchair.  But before you say, "Ohhh, poor Melissa, her poor dad," let me tell you something amazing.  My dad is the most incredibly positive man that you will EVER meet.  I consider myself a permanently glass-is-half-full kind of girl, but my dad blows my positivity out of the water.  He's famous for saying, "I'm still me, just me on wheels," and has really embraced life and all it has to offer, even if it's from his "on wheels" state.  And, despite the fact that he was dealing with his recovery and all the medical problems that that entailed (Moyes' descriptions of the health roller coaster that Will experiences is VERY accurate ... I can't count how many times my dad's had a UTI or pneumonia), he was DETERMINED to walk me down the aisle.

As I mentioned earlier, his accident happened in June 2010 and our wedding had already been booked for November 27, 2010.  When we look back at the fragile state that my dad was in post-accident, it still seems miraculous to me that he did make it to the wedding.  We considered postponing the wedding, but the doctors and physiotherapists and everyone said that it would be good for my dad to work towards a goal.  And did he ever work hard!  He was there for the rehearsal dinner, escorted me down the aisle and gave a speech at the wedding that made the entire room cry.  I couldn't have been prouder of him that day.  He is such an inspiration to those around him...he's my daddy, and I love him so, so, so much.


Whew, I'm getting super emotional just writing this review!  So, let's bring it back to the book for a moment so that I can catch my breath.  Jojo Moyes' has an amazing gift for character development and this is the strongest aspect of this book.  Louisa and Will's characters are so REAL that I felt like I was reading about two people that I really knew well by the end of the book.  The relationship that unfolds throughout the course of the book is really heartwarming.  Plus, all of the secondary characters are so unique and quirky and interesting.  My only criticism of the book (which kept me from giving it five stars on Goodreads) is Will's viewpoint of the world.  Perhaps it's my own bias because of my dad's experience, but I just wanted to shake him sometimes and remind him that he's lucky to be ALIVE.

I could keep going on and on, but I think this is a book that you just need to experience for yourself.  As I tweeted to Cass while writing this review, Me Before You broke my heart a million times over, but that's what a good book does.  It's rare to find a book that resonates on such a deeply personal level, but I'm glad that I had this reading experience.  It's a little scary to share such a personal review here on the blog ... but I'm hoping that this helped you to get to know me a little better and also hoping that you'll take a chance on this amazing book.

16 comments:

  1. I adore you, and your courage for writing this personal review. I am so glad to hear how positive of a man your father is, and that you were still able to find a deep appreciation for this novel.

    <3 <3 xoxooxo

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    1. Thank you Cassie, both for your thoughtful comment AND for getting me to read this book in the first place! XOXO

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing this today. I honestly don't even know what to say. I have had this on my bookshelf for awhile, and haven't had a chance to pick it up but I may move it to my nightstand now. (As long as we have tissues.) Give your dad a hug for me. I love that he has remained so positive through all of this. That's so important and I wish more people would take that to heart. xo

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    1. I hope you like it too Estelle! I will pass along that hug for sure =) XOXO

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  3. Oh Melissa. Ditto what both girls said above. Please write more posts like this. I am so intrigued by the book, but so thankful to get to know a little piece of you better through this review. Love you to pieces. xoxo

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    1. Thanks Magan! I was a little nervous posting so much of ME up here on the blog but, like when I shared a pic of myself, it was your comment that just made me feel so that happy that I did it. So thank YOU, friend, and I love you to pieces right back. XOXO

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  4. This post was so moving. Your dad seems like an awesome person! I will have to add this book to my To Read pile.

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    1. I hope you like it Sarika! It's such a great story, even without the personal connection.

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  5. Thank you for sharing your story with us and letting us understand how this book affected you while reading it. Your Dad sounds like an inspiration to all those around him. And your thoughts on the book are wonderful. I read the synopsis a while back and added to my wishlist knowing that it would probably make me cry something fierce when I finally pick this one up. But you are right, a good book evokes strong emotion!

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    1. Thanks for such a thoughtful comment Chrystal! I hope you enjoy the book too, when you find time to read it.

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  6. Wow... just, wow Melissa. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story <3 I had tears in my eyes the whole time I read it, you are so lucky to have such an amazing, positive father. I don't even know what to say honestly because this is such a touching post. That photo of you and your father is beautiful, you looked absolutely STUNNING. This book wasn't on my radar at all, like you, I passed over it a million times in the bookstore because the cover didn't wow me... I really think I will be picking it up, if you and Cass both loved it I'm bound to like it :)

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    1. You know that Cass will be all over you if you don't read it (and she's kind of scary so I'd just do it!) Thank you for leaving such a thoughtful comment -- I'm so happy that we met through Secret Santa! XOXO

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    2. Plus, I know that you're a major book crier like me, so this book is TOTALLY right for you!

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  7. I know I already told you this on Twitter, but this post definitely brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for being so open and sharing this personal story. I'm sure you were nervous about writing it, but I just so appreciate that you sharing how this book affected your personally. You look absolutely lovely in your wedding photo, and I can just feel the joy and love radiating off my screen. You are so blessed to have such a wonderful, inspiring father. Thank you for this lovely, emotional and moving review! So glad blogging has introduced me to you :)

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    1. Aww, Hannah, and I'm glad that blogging has introduced ME to YOU! Big squishy hugs XOXO

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  8. Just came across your blog after reading Jo Jo moyes one plus one- I absolutely loved me before you, different circumstances entirely but it came to me at a time when I was so scared having just been diagnosed with ms. Thank you for sharing the positivity of your wonderful daddy- he will remain in my thoughts during any darker times that may come, best wishes lyndsey

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