Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time. (Goodreads Synopsis)
Wow. I have had this book in my “to be read” pile for a while. When it was available from the library, it sat on my counter for a few weeks gaining glances as I walked by, knowing it would be a game changer. That’s what I ultimately want from a book. The book that makes you laugh, cry, ponder, reflect, learn something new, keep you up nights reading and make you look at the world a little differently. The cover makes you think it’s just a love story. It isn’t. Some reviewers mention it is a book about euthanasia and personal rights. It wasn’t that for me either. This story encompasses everything about living life fully, having empathy for one another, the strength of family and friendships and finding humor in the most dreadful circumstances. It is a LIFE story.
Louisa Clark is “an ordinary girl, leading an ordinary life. And it suits her just fine.” As stated in the synopsis she takes a six month position as a caretaker for Will Traynor who was a successful business man, eligible bachelor and had a “live life to its’ fullest” motto. After a tragic accident he became a quadriplegic. She not only learns so much about Will and his needs, fears, and dreams, but she finally realizes what she wants out of her life.
“This thing about being catapulted into a whole new life-or at least, shoved up so hard against someone else’s life that you might as well have your face pressed against their window-is that it forces you to rethink your idea of who you are. Or how you might seem to other people.”
The story is mostly from Louisa’s (Lou’s) point of view but there are a few chapters interspersed throughout the story from the view of Will’s parents, male nurse Nathan, and Louisa’s sister. Jojo Moyes allows the reader to hear and feel how this kind of tragedy affects all the people involved. One of the more heartbreaking and touching scenes was from the viewpoint of Will’s mother, Camilla.
“It’s just that the thing you never understand about being a mother, until you are one, is that it is not the grown man-the galumphing, unshaven, stinking, opinionated offspring-you see before you, with his parking tickets and unpolished shoes and complicated love life. You see all the people he has ever been all rolled up into one. I looked at Will and I saw the baby I held in my arms, dewily besotted, unable to believe that I had created another human being. I saw the toddler, reaching for my hand, the schoolboy weeping tears of fury after being bullied by some other child. I saw the vulnerabilities, the love, the history.”
Yes, the story is heartbreaking to read about a viable young man becoming confined to a wheelchair with a never-ending litany of indignities, loss of physical freedom, health concerns, stares from onlookers and a bleak future. But, the story has heartfelt moments of friendship and love, joy, and humorous laugh out loud moments with Louisa’s family and boyfriend Patrick. The clever, quick and honest banter between Will, Nathan and Louisa are some of the finest written scenes. The characters are all richly developed adding the necessary layers to make you feel connected as if you personally know them.
Again, this is a story about LIFE. It’s real and gritty. There is laughter and sadness. It will make you feel uncomfortable at times but hopeful and thankful for the moments you have. The story doesn’t preach what is right or wrong or try to sway you one way or another. It’s the “everything” book. One that stays with you long after it is finished. It will “score your heart”. Sometimes six months can be the best six months of your life.
“Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle. Wear those stripy legs with pride…Knowing you still have possibilities is a luxury…Just live well. Just live.”