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 Moyes creates characters that may at first seem stereotypical – Louisa is bubbly and awkward, Will is miserable and withdrawn and you may think, pah, typical!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.

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Wonderful World of Words!

World Book Day. A day to cherish, appreciate and celebrate the wonderful world of imagination and storytelling!

I remember winning a competition on World Book Day in primary school for dressing up as Scarecrow from Wizard of Oz. I cannot remember why I chose Scarecrow – I looked like a homeless kid who just woke up from sleeping in the bushes – but I’m glad I did. I was creative with my costume as I picked leaves from the tree in my back garden, glued them on to my old brown t-shirt and matching trousers and made a hat using a cardboard box, vast amounts of sellotape and some brown, crinkly wrapping paper. Needless to say, some of my class mates  weren’t too impressed simply because there shop-bought outfits were SO much prettier than my glue-and-sellotape masterpiece. But I won. So neh.

SCARECROW wizard of oz

I won?! Oh my- I’d like to thank God…

I have a 4 month old niece and already my sister and I are reading to her. She is entranced by the bright colours on the pages, mystified by the words that come out of our mouths and excited at the expressions and tone of voices we both use to tell the story. 

Reading is invaluable to anyone. It’s fun, educational and it allows you to open up your mind to endless possibilities, dreams, ambitions, new worlds, people, places, create your own life, use it as a form of escapism-maybe just for a little while, a means to discuss and meet new people over a cup of coffee, experiment, share your love of words – it could mean anything and absolutely everything to someone.

Doooo itttttttt...

Doooo itttttttt…

I have been a book lover since I could grab hold of one with my chubby, baby fingers. I like to  believe this trait was passed down from my mother who was also a reading fanatic. And I hope to pass this down to my own children some day.

Books allowed me to open up my imagination when I was younger and I maintained that same magic as I became an adult. I remember feeling sorry for people who had lost their magic and connection with the written word, a connection to another world. They would scoff at the fact that I love to read as it’s ‘SO geeky.’ Reading wasn’t considered ‘cool’ and to this day, it still isn’t. As naïve as it sounds, I am still astounded when I come across people or kids who still haven’t read Harry Potter because:

Ain-t-Nobody-Got-Time-Fo-Dat-sweet-brown-31241125-480-330

Head? Meet Brick Wall.

BANG HEAD HERE
I hope one day this stereotype that reading is for geeks is dead and cremated once and for all. And that parents who have busy work schedules will still continue to take time out and dive into another world with their children, giving their own inner child a wake up call and sharing a special bonding moment with them, ready for the journey the author has laid out for them.

So enjoy the day, cherish the time spent with your loved ones and of course, don’t forget to tell us…

What have you been reading?

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.

So much for their happy ending…

Back at university, during my first year, we were told once a week to write a short story that would be criticised by the rest of our class in groups. I was more than happy to comply. My thoughts would instantly run towards grief, drama, tragedy, how my characters would face these challenges and overcome them.

At the end of the my first year, we were told to write three stories for our end of year portfolio. Immediately I was brimming with ideas: teenage issues, a family tragedy, bullying; my list was endless.

Before handing any piece of work in, I would always ask one of my closest friend’s opinion. One afternoon while we were basking in the glorious short-lived summer sun, having finished reading my work, she sighed, placed the papers on the grass, looked at me pointedly and asked, “Why can you never write anything happy?”

I frowned and repeated the question to myself.

Why couldn’t I write anything happy?

Up until then, I hadn’t thought much about the themes to my stories. It was natural for me to write something tragic. That was all I knew. I’m not trying to sound like someone who has had a tragic childhood – yes, shit happened but not enough to ruin me for the future. It was, honestly, just what I was comfortable with. Even when I was 16 and was told to write a 3000 word story, I wrote about a girl being raped and how her best friend helped her deal with the tragedy. I know, morbid is an understatement.

I gave my friend’s question some thought and decided for one of my portfolio pieces, I was going to attempt a love story of sorts. So I sat down at my desk and started to type.

And it was the hardest thing I had ever had to do.

Writing about someone being in love, being happy, cheerful just didn’t sit with me. It wasn’t as if I was depressed. I had made good friends at university, I was fitting in well at my new place and I was genuinely having the time of my life.

So why did I find it so difficult to pen my happiness? Why did words fail me when all I wanted to do was express my emotions into my characters and create a cheerful, upbeat story? Do any of you writer’s out there suffer from this inability to express or am I on my own?

Frustration and anger was boiling through me as I repeatedly deleted letter after word after sentence. I could not, for the life of me understand what was happening. What ever I would write would sound cheesy and outdated. It didn’t sound real, as ironic as that sounds. I couldn’t bring the characters to life, the dialogue between them was cold and the scenes were non-existent. But I wasn’t going to quit.

So I compromised with myself.

Instead of opting for a complete upbeat story, I met myself half way and chose to write about a couple who needed to remind themselves why they fell in love in the first place after being on the verge of a divorce/break up. This way, I could write about their problems.

And this is the moment when I realised that I like to write about problems because only I have the power to write their solutions.

Years later, I look back at some of the things I wrote and I am in awe at how far I have come. What seemed so childishly written before is now  a part of my history – something I can look at and learn from without being doomed to repeat it.

I may not have written an epic love story yet, but I know now that with discipline, determination and honest friends, it doesn’t seem impossible.