When Lou Clark loses the waitressing job she loves, she’s got no time to wallow: financial problems at home mean she needs to find employment fast, so she becomes a companion/carer to a paraplegic named Will Traynor. Before his accident, Will lived a full, adventurous and exhilarating life, but is now unable to do any of the things he loves and is in a lot of pain. Lou accepts the job, hoping she’ll be able to cope with Will’s dark moods and general awkwardness. Then just when Lou is getting closer to Will, she discovers his plan to go to Dignitas and end his life. Lou’s immediate response is to attempt to change Will’s mind by showing him everything he still has to live for, but will she be able to change Will’s mind in time?
What I found particularly intriguing about this book was that the central question wasn’t whether Will’s quality of life was poor enough to warrant his ending it, but rather whether he should be able to end a life he’s not happy in. Not only Will’s feelings, but also those of his family, and of course, Lou are examined, and it really made me think about how such a decision can affect so many people, and provoke many different reactions.
Moyes did a good job of establishing a very strong social difference between Will and Lou: despite the fact that they lived quite close to one another, their families and homes are vastly different; this was perhaps the first obstacle that Lou in particular had to overcome before she and Will could become true friends. The relationship which eventually developed between the two was completely compelling and engaging, and didn’t feel at all forced or unrealistic.
I found Lou’s character interesting: she was far too comfortable being stuck in a rut, but for Lou to be truly happy and live the life she deserves, she needed to challenge herself and push her self-imposed boundaries. It’s Will who sees this, and he does all he can to help her.
I’m afraid I loathed the heroine’s sister with a vengeance: she was just so horrible, selfish and self-righteous. She thought about nobody other than herself and seemed to believe she was somehow better than Lou - who, if nothing else, was a much nicer person that her sibling. However, my hatred actually worked to the story’s advantage as it made me even more concerned that Lou should make something of herself.
I’m sure Jojo Moyes is getting absolutely sick of reading Tweets describing where her readers were whilst they cried pitifully at the climax of her book, but really, she’s brought it on herself – it’s such a sad story, I knew pretty early on that I’d be blubbing like the rest well before the end.
Moyes deals with an extremely sensitive and emotional subject very well, and has succeeded in bringing a complex, thought-provoking and heart-breaking issue into popular fiction. She’s done an incredible job with this brilliant book and deserves all the success it’s bringing her.
4 and a half stars