I love to read.
My dad has always been an avid reader; I truly cannot recall an evening he did not have a book in his hands at some point my entire life. According to family lore, he tried to read me Moby Dick as a bedtime story when I was small and my mom worked nights. I’m pretty sure that didn’t end well and I don’t believe I’ve read it to this day. I was much more of a Where The Wild Things Are type of child and remain so today.
Reading has always been a sort of refuge for me, and a strong connector to others. If you know me in real life, you know that one thing I value over most everything is a great discussion – not a debate, not an argument, for I am most decidedly non-confrontational (unless adequately provoked and therefore on the defense.) I’m always wildly interested in others viewpoints and ideas, and moreover how they came to have them based on their personal stories and experiences. That, in itself, is truly what colors our world. We have no opinions or thoughts or ideas that exist in a void. They all harken back to some part of our story as a whole.
I’ve mentioned before that one of the greatest things I’ve done since the Big Move was to setup a book club. Through it, I’ve met some really wonderful people, many of whom I already consider dear friends. The beauty of the book club, what has really resonated with me and hopefully with others, is simply the discussion. Honestly, some months we discuss the given book more often than others. But our one and only “rule” of book club is that all are welcome, whether they have read the book or not – because we always have wonderful conversations about books in general. I cannot count how many times one or another or even several of us have pulled out our phones or notebooks to jot down the name of an author or book title after hearing it praised at book club. My GoodReads certainly is always longer by the end of the night and for that, I’m always thankful.
I also participate in a little online book club with three of my girlfriends I grew up with. They, along with my other voracious reader friends, are a wealth of knowledge on what to read and have given me opportunities to try books I’d never have considered on my own.
And so we finally come to the point of this post. I’ve tossed around the idea of posting book reviews for some time now. While the idea is appealing, I’ve gone back and forth on it (as I’m apt) more times than I can count. But here is the bottom line: I think there is value in it and so I shall. There won’t be any rhyme or reason to how, when or what I post. I can’t come up with any kind of fancy alliteration such as Meatless Monday or Taco Tuesday or Whackadoodle Wednesday or some such, and so it shall just be so. I’ll do my best to refrain from spoilers whenever able and merely provide the basics of the plot. If it makes you try a new title or seek out an author you’ve never read; if it makes you, even for a moment, escape out of your busy life into someone else’s; if it just makes you think about something you’d never really thought of before – then it is probably worth it.
And so here we are. I’ve had Me Before You by JoJo Meyers on my to-read list for some time but lately, I haven’t really been reading. I’m not sure what that is about, likely a symptom of other things going on in my life. There’s also been a degree to which I haven’t wanted to read because I’ve been very busy and I know that once I begin a good book, I don’t want to put it down and if I have to, I become somewhat petulant. Anyway, my friend made such a strong case for the book, I downloaded it over the weekend and began it last night around bedtime. I ended up staying up until my Kindle’s battery went dead – yes, really – and finished the book this morning. I was almost immediately caught up in the lives of the characters – their personalities, their foibles, their struggles, their authenticity. Sometimes, characters on the periphery are made out to be simply one dimensional: good or bad. Throughout, even they were shown to be multi-faceted and that just added to my enjoyment of the depth of the main characters.
I won’t give much away in terms of plot but will suffice to say this: it focuses on Louisa Clark, an unassuming girl from an unassuming family who loses her safe and very unassuming job at a cafe after six years. In her effort to find something else quickly, she ends up being hired on as a companion for a young quadriplegic man for six months. While they get off to a rocky start, as their relationship grows and develops, it changes both of their lives in unexpected ways.
There was a time in my life when I expected happy endings. Now, I place more value on a story that is true, that is real, that is honest, regardless of the ultimate outcome. When a happy ending is the outcome, I’m rarely saddened, don’t get me wrong, but I also know that that isn’t always the way of the world. You’ll have to read this one to see into which category it ultimately falls – and I can assure you, it will keep you guessing until the final pages.