I had no expectations going into this book other than Myleik Teele, an amazing role model I’m currently swooning over, said it was excellent. I trust her book recommendations, but I like to read books and then form my own opinions about them. If I had to give this book a rating based on a 1 – 5 scale, I’d rate it a 4 1/2.
Like I said, I did not know what to expect when I opened this book, but I was completely and totally riveted from the first word. I could not put it down, it was compelling and I wanted to know what was going to happen next.
Twenty-six-year-old Louisa Clark is a simple girl, living a lackluster life at home with her parents, in the shadow of her small town’s castle and not minding at all. Thirty-five-year-old Will Traynor is a successful businessman who lives life to the fullest, including traveling the world and engaging in extreme sports activities.
When we meet Will, he is suddenly and tragically hit by a speeding motorcycle, rendering him a quadriplegic — and a very unhappy one at that. Meanwhile, Louisa loses her job at The Buttered Bun cafe, a simple and sweet job that made her happy. But since neither of Louisa’s parents are employed and her sister intends to go back to university, it is incumbent upon Louisa to find a job — and fast. She is told about a well-paying position as a caregiver. That’s when she meets the surly and unapproachable Will, who clearly has no need for Louisa in his life.
But, Louisa reacts to him in ways that no one else in Will’s circle does: with a jaunty sense of humor mixed with a good dose of sarcasm. Oddly enough, he begins to find her engaging, with her nutty way of dressing, her caustic sense of humor and her growing love for him. As the relationship grows between the two, Louisa takes it upon herself to show Will that, even though he’s a quadriplegic, there is a reason to keep on living.
Louisa and Will changed each other in so many ways in such a short period of time. Louisa gave Will happiness that he hadn’t experienced for a long time and Will gave Louisa the determination to do something with her life and not let it go to waste. I loved the way the author depicted these two souls — Louisa and Will, each damaged in their own way — and how they came to fall in love.
What happens in this six-month time period is the heart of this story. It is about two families and how they deal with what life has dealt them. It is about choices and being allowed to choose. It is about awakening and discovering life and all there is to take from it and not be afraid to really love and live. It isn’t until about halfway through the book when you realize the ending of this book will end in only one of two ways.
I should also tell you this book is written by a British author. The story is set in modern-day England. Therefore, there are some British slang and references to things and places that had me Googling a few times. For example, the words ‘bloke’ and ‘loo’. You could make out the meaning of some of the words via the context clues though. It’s really not a big deal and I didn’t find it bothersome.
The one criticism I have of this book and the reason why I didn’t give it 5 stars because I thought there should have been a few chapters where Will was the narrator. Louisa is the narrator for the majority of the book and then four other supporting characters take over the narrative for one chapter’s length at various times. I really wanted to get Will’s perspective and be inside his head to see what he was thinking.
The thing I liked most is that the author didn’t take the easy road with her characters, plot or the overall theme. Her choices were not always easy, but she made them with confidence. I also loved how Will, a broken man, who has lived a fulfilling life, inspires a directionless Louisa to live to her potential.
I love when Will tells Louisa to “Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle. Wear those stripy legs with pride. Just live well.”
Overall I think this is a lovely read with plenty of humor and poignancy. I smiled. I laughed. I cried. It’s definitely a book that leaves you thinking, ‘What would I do…?’
You can find other books written by author JoJo Moyes on her website: http://www.jojomoyes.com/.
Your turn: Did you find this review to be helpful? Do you think you’ll be adding it to your reading list this year? Feel free to let me know in the comments.