It's About: Really, a classic love story. Will Traynor had it all. He had a successful career, the blonde, leggy girlfriend and he is rich in a way that he assumes that everything will just naturally fall into place for him. All until the tragic accident that leaves him a quadriplegic. Enter Louisa. A young girl from the other side of the tracks, not the wrong side, just the other side. She's lived a very small life to Will's former life. After losing her job and having no training, she agrees to become Will's caregiver. Will is all glass and thorns. He is not happy to be alive in his present state. Louisa has no experience with caregiving. From here, the story quickly changes from a love story to a story of morality. The reader is forced to deal with his or her own view on physician assisted suicide all the while falling in love with Louisa and Will's story.
I Thought: Well done, Ms. Moyes, well done. This story is written magnificently. Throughout, I began to feel with Will the complete loss of control that he feels when everyone decides they need to make decisions for him because he is quadriplegic. Will tells them all that they are doing it, but none of them seem to understand how not to control him. Even to the last, Louisa, the one who loves him most, tries to control Will's experience as a disabled person. I feel the tension in the marriage of Will's parents. I feel the frustration of his sister. I feel the desperation of Louisa. Moyes brings to light the intensity of the feelings of the case of characters except Will. Will is left laying there dealing with all this intensity without the ability to control the outcome. He is helpless to fix the problems all around him. He is only in control of whether he chooses to live or die.
No matter what the reader's opinion on physician assisted suicide, the suggestion in this book is that to live well is to die well.
The 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.
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. That's what he's asking me to extinguish - the small child as well as the man - all that love, all that history.
But I want him to live if he wants to live. If he doesn't, then by forcing him to carry on, you, me - no matter how much we love him - we become just another shitty bunch of people taking away his choices.
Recommendation: Read it! It is definitely a thinking book wrapped in a love story. As physician assisted suicide becomes more common in the United States, we all are going to have to think more about it.