Monday, June 4, 2012

Me Before You

Dev Rating: ***

This is a difficult one to review. On the one hand, the descriptions of quadriplegic Will are fairly detailed and realistic. He is a very charming guy, particularly once Lou and he begin to like one another. On the other hand, it is another quad-wants-to-die plot written by someone who read a news article about a man who had an assisted suicide and wanted to understand it better.

The story is that Lou, a charming young woman with a quirky sense of style, gets hired to be the carer for a quadriplegic man even though she has no experience at all. It turns out that she was hired more because of her cheery nature in the hopes that she will help bring him out of depression.

Though the subject matter is heavy, it is a chick-lit style book. I was very surprised to see how many reviews the book has on Amazon. In the UK, where it is published and based, there are some 700 reviews. I've never seen that many! I have no idea how that happened, but there were several one star reviews from people who were not expecting a chick-lit book, so let me warn you about that ahead of time!

If you know me then you know that I find the quad-wants-to-die plot extremely tiresome. It reeks of ableism: "I, an able-bodied woman with no experience of disability shall write about a quadriplegic because I read about it in the news. What should I write? How about how miserable his life must be?"
I, also an able-bodied woman, have no authority to say that's not true. What I can say is that I've known quads, two of them being at the same injury level as Will and one higher. None of them have wanted to commit suicicde. They expressed to me how grateful they were to be alive and emphasized how they have grown from the experience. One told me that he had learned so much from it that his life was better than it had been.

If you're going to ever read any book where the plot is quad-wants-to-die, this is the one to read. It does present a fairly balanced view of the issue. I'm reluctant to recommend any book with this plot, but I did find myself moved by it. If you do read it, I urge you to remember that whatever it might seem like from an outside point of view, many people with quadriplegia are living happy and content lives.

I was reluctant to read the book knowing this was the plot, but I am actually glad that I read it.

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