Me Before You.

62-me-before-you

It may look like a standard chick lit from the front cover, but DO NOT LET THAT FOOL YOU. This is far from your average romantic boy-meets-girl book.

This is a heartbreaking, funny, poignant, story that will make you want to really live. 

Amidst hundreds of books being published in this digital day and age, I think it’s rare to find a book that truly opens up your heart, cuts you deep, leaves you breathless, vulnerable and makes you question the way you are living your life now; whether you are living it to your full potential and how maybe, just maybe, you could be living it so much MORE?

Me Before You did just that for me and so much more.

When I found myself wishing for the Powers That Be and some other Divine Force for this book to miraculously turn into the NeverEnding Story, I knew I’d found an absolute treasure.

The Story
Will Traynor was all about living the high life. A successful businessman, an adrenaline junkie and someone who had travelled all over the world, he knew how to live. However, after being involved in a nasty motorcycle accident, Will is now a quadriplegic. Growing bitter and more miserable each day, he is now in the caring hands of middle-class, ex-waitress, Louisa Clark, his new and reluctant/desperate-for-money care assistant. And as they start to form a friendship, they both end up changing each other’s lives in a way neither thought possible.

As soon as I had opened up the first page, I could not put it down. I was so anti-social, ignoring my parents and guests. But my eyes were glued to each page, trying to absorb every word as I was drawing near to the end. And I was dreading it because I just wanted it to go on and on. I ended up finishing this book at around 1.30am. And once I was done and had settled my emotions, all I wanted to do was read it again.

Because I was BLOWN AWAY.

This was the first book I had read from the author and it certainly will not be the last. Moyes creates characters that may at first seem stereotypical – Louisa is bubbly and awkward, Will is miserable and withdrawn and you may think, pah, typical!

NO.

Will and Lou are not your average characters and you will, without a doubt, fall in love with them. Lou is pretty, funny and awkward but also wears her heart on her sleeve and doesn’t believe she is someone who can be into things like foreign films and travelling, or even bright enough to carry on with education. Will is unhappy and reserved but also handsome, sexy, sarcastic and is extremely knowledgeable. And the two mesh so well together, you cannot help but reach out to try to grasp some of their happiness and store it in a safe place so it comes to no harm.

There is a dark, controversial subject that aids the entire story: euthanasia. Moyes grapples with this tough subject with such ease. She handles assisted suicide with sensitivity and perfection, taking the reader on an emotional journey with the characters, making it all realistic and finally, leaving you to tackle your own thoughts about it. She doesn’t drown the book with complicated words so it sounds like a medical dictionary, nor does she shy away from the physical pain the paralysis brings on Will (and there are plenty) or the awkwardness people feel when faced with a quadriplegic. A perfect example is when Lou’s dad Bernard, meets Will for the first time and he embarrassingly holds out his hand, then stammers, “I don’t know how to greet a… I can’t shake your-” Moyes’ strong humorous reply from Will, “A curtsy will be fine,” breaks the tension and draws a laugh from the reader. A perfect balance.

I won’t carry on more about the story. All you need to know is that you NEED to read this. And I cannot stress that enough. It is a powerful story, combining love, heart ache and humour in such a way, that it will leave you in awe and possibly change your outlook on a few things. It changed mine.

So thank you Jojo Moyes for writing a story that will follow me forever. It has a special place on my bookshelf and in my heart and is definitely a story that I will never, ever forget.

Will Traynor and Louisa Clark are forever “scored on my heart.”

You told the world something good.

Where have all the good kids gone?

Girls. Ugh. Granted I am one but it seems that the younger generation are getting worse and worse.

I’m at a friend’s house and we’re both discussing the usual (why men suck, why they exist…riveting stuff) when we hear a commotion outside. I see two girls – Green Top and Stripe Top walking hand in hand down the street. And behind them, I see a group of girls shouting and laughing. At first glance, I think they’re all friends, just laughing about what Justin Bieber did next. But then I noticed how they crowded around the two girls in front and started gettin’ all up in their personal space. Oh, it was so on.

This was over in matter of minutes but the pack of She-Wolves pulled Green Top and Stripe Top’s hair, swore at them and challenged them to say something back. One particularly husky looking girl stood so close to Green Top that even I could smell her breath. I had to hand it to Green Top and Stripe Top for standing their ground and not wavering. They just shouted a few words back, grabbed each other’s hands and stormed off. This angered the pack of angry She-Wolves but before they could retaliate further, they turned around and saw that they were about to miss their bus. Oh, the horror. All fighting was forgotten as they ran like their life depended on it. I for one, was grateful the bus arrived because I wanted these animals out of my area – it’s a peaceful, tranquil area and trouble is extremely rare and they were ruining that reputation.

After the horror picture show we had just saw, my friend and I moved our discussion away from why men are complete arseholes to why teenage girls are arseholes and bullies. I agree that ‘heaven is a place on earth’ doesn’t quite ring true these days (thank you terrorists and economic crisis), but I don’t walk around with a frown constantly glued to my face and a bat in my hand ready for action. 

So we started reminiscing about our teen-school days and the girls we knew. And we concluded that they had anger issues, attention issues, boy issues and some were just plain f****d up from day one. I remember one girl telling me about how she got her black eye.

THE LIE:
A helicopter and police cars arrived at the scene of the crime to stop her fighting with some other girls. And she had a Shiner.

It was an electrifying story and one I of course believed with every cell in my body.

THE TRUTH:
She got punched by one hefty looking girl and had to call her dad.

DADDY! SHE BEING MEAN!

It’s more difficult to be yourself and be accepted in today’s society, so some become bullies, exerting power over the weak so they can be feared instead of rejected. God forbid what would happen if they let down their guard.

I knew one girl who had moved schools because she was bullied. You would think being a victim of bullying, she would empathise with other kids right?

WRONG.

At the new school, she made friends with the toughest kids and became a bully herself.

Clearly, she’s a genius.

From the pack of She-Wolves, I noticed one girl who wore a bright pink jacket. She wasn’t directly involved with the fighting or the swearing, she was watching from the sidelines, her tail wagging away, running after her ‘friends.’ She is what I call the ‘puppy’ of the group. She doesn’t like to get her hands dirty from the amount of make up that was masking her face but will only appear to act vicious just so she can still be accepted as part of the She-Wolves pack. If she continues on this road then her future will be bleak.

Bowling For Soup were right, ‘High School  Never Ends.’ A vicious cycle is a constant. We grow up with angst teenagers, our younger brothers and sisters grow up with the same group and so on and so forth. As I observed the pack outside of their territory, I realised that one day, this is the generation we’ll have to rely on.

And all I could do was gulp.

Well…Damn.

Procrasti…

Procrastination is the mother of all annoyances in my life. And yet, I still cannot control the urge to NOT procrastinate. Even saying the word out loud wastes time. (I really hope some of you actually said it out loud just then.)

Writing is a skill that needs obvious discipline. Discipline that I have lacked as of late. I wish I could give you a mature, responsible reason such as, “I have a full-time job.”

But then, I would be lying.

No. Instead, I just haven’t been able to actually write. Don’t get me wrong, there have been times when I have opened Microsoft word and have had the evil black vertical line just blink away at me, waiting for me to write something, ANYTHING, just so it would stop blinking. I felt sorry for the little blinker as I wasn’t letting it do its job properly.

My own personal battle with the blinker.

This. Means. War.

My life was going downhill from there.

So a few days ago, when I sat down to write my obvious award-winning blog post #12, I just said a few words out loud to help me with my writing process.

My mantra ladies and gentlemen (drum roll please as I’m sure this is as exciting for you as it is for me…):

Chair. Ass. Pen. Paper. Laptop. These five magical words  are helping me write this Nobel prize-winning blog post #13. Oh, sweet, sweet joy!

OK, I might be putting too much into those five words but it’s a start. Aside from deadlines, during university I would write to set myself a challenge for others to criticise. As we were introduced to new authors and new ways of writing, it was an exciting time. But now that it’s all on me, my Motivation has flown away with the endless wind and rain we’re currently experiencing and its evil twin Procrastination has taken over.

To get a little deep here, it was a lot more than just procrastination that was making me idle. I was losing my passion altogether and some days, I didn’t know if I would ever get it back. The blinker would continuously blink, the keys on my laptop would pulsate, my fingers would itch to write, but as soon as my fingers touched the keys that moved the blinker, all was lost. So to you, it may sound like useless words but to me, it’s a really big accomplishment considering I’ve been a lost cause for months. And before having written the awesome blog post #12, I hadn’t written anything in a while.

And, well, ta dah!

I NOW HAVE WORDS.

I think that deserves a pat on the back.  Don’t you?

Hell yeah.

One Step Closer…

Before the night out.

“What are you wearing Imogen?” asked Katie.
“Oh, just this dress I bought the other day.” Imogen held it up for the girls to see.
“Oh noo, I thought we were suppose to all wear the same outfits?” Jessica whined.
Katie looked at Imogen and asked politely, “Why don’t you wear the same as us?”
“Which is?” Imogen asked, her eyebrows raised.
Jessica  took out a black high-waisted skirt with a red one-shoulder top, from her cupboard. “It’s really cute isn’t it? We’ve got the same skirts but different coloured tops.”
High-waisted skirt – really? Is the tyre around my waist not visible enough that you have to give it its own public show?
“Erm, it’s really cute but I don’t own that skirt so…” she drifted off.

Awkward silence.

Imogen cleared her throat and said, too brightly, “Well, I just remembered that I’m suppose to meet Tom now for an early dinner so I’ll see you girls in a few!”

It was 4pm.

And the award for the Most Awkward Moment in the history of Awkward Moments goes to…drum roll please…

After the night out.

“Give me a piggy back please? My feet hurt.” Katie pouted up at her boyfriend, her arms raised.
Oh Jeez, how old are you? Quit acting like a baby, 
Imogen thought. That little display of ‘affection’ was beyond creepy. You almost expected him to answer back to her with a sultry, “Whose your daddy?”
Everyone laughed as they watched Katie scream in delight. Seeing how much fun Katie was having, Jessica pleaded with her boyfriend Joe, to do the same. Tom squeezed Imogen’s hand. She gave him a warm smile to reassure him that she’s enjoying herself.
But Imogen cringed as she realised she was the only girlfriend who wasn’t screaming to climb on someone’s back. And she didn’t have to be psychic to know what was coming next. Before picking Jessica up, Imogen watched as Joe walked over to Tom, slung his arm over his shoulder and said in a low voice, “Hey, why don’t you pick up your girlfriend too?”

And there it was.

Feeling her face flush with embarrassment, her eyes narrowed at Joe as she watched him smirk. Tom pushed him away and muttered the words, “Dick” before giving Imogen’s hand one more squeeze. Imogen refrained herself from wanting to punch him and acted like she didn’t hear a word.

Smug bastard.

Can you relate to this scenario? If your answer is ‘Yes’ then congratulations, you’re not alone. So many of us out there have felt like Imogen and still feel like her. It’s so easy for people to say ‘Join the gym’ or ‘Just watch what you eat.’ Some eat for comfort when they are not happy; some eat because they are bored. Some people avoid the gym because they still feel like they are being judged for being ‘big.’ The reasons are endless.

Who has walked into a gym thinking you would see ‘figure-challenged’ people such as yourself, but instead find yourself in a place where a runway should replace the treadmills and weight machines?

Yup. Not intimidating AT ALL...

Magazines and celebrities don’t make it easy for us ‘normal’ people do they? The yo-yo diets, the special foods, the 2 week crash diet…

I could go on and on.

I would be a hypocrite if I said that I have never felt that way. That I am completely and totally happy with the way I look and always have been. I have my off days. Sometimes a small remark could trigger my waterfall of tears. But then I remember that I have people who love me for just being me.

I also think Bridget Jones being introduced to the world helped. A LOT.

"No, I like you very much. Just as you are." Mark Darcy...Swoon ♥.

Now I am going to go all Zen and Deep on you.

Looks fade. Shallowness remains. If you hear someone say something about your weight or how you look, and if you think the tears are about to fall, take a deep breath, stop and think for a second. Think about your friends, your family, or that special someone in your life and how they all make you feel. In other words, go to your happy place. Then think about how narrow-minded and shallow that person is for making such a comment. You know s/he has issues for them to pass judgement on others.

Remember, no one is perfect.

And finally remind yourself of how amazing, how beautiful, smart and funny you are and how some people should only be so lucky to even consider you being their friend.

Learn to love yourself, flaws and all. You never know, what you see as ‘flaws’ could set you apart from all the ‘Perfectly Shaped Clones’ of the world.

And you’ll finally be one step closer to accepting yourself.

By Life As We Know It Posted in Issues