Jojo Moyes’ “Me Before You” is beautiful, heartbreaking and one of those books you just can’t put down.
The story follows the relationship between 35-year-old Will Traynor and his caregiver, 26-year-old Louisa (Lou) Clark. Will lost use of his legs and the majority of the use of his hands after being hit by a motorcycle. Confined to a wheelchair he has succumb to a deep depression. Clark is not your traditional caregiver, she is 26 but has never left her small town in England, never traveled nor gotten a college education. After losing a job she fiercely loved at a cafe, Lou has no choice but to help support her family by taking the job as Will’s caregiver.
It’s a job that changes the course of her life.
Moyes has a way with her characters and a subtle and charming humor to her writing. This story has romance, but is not merely a romance novel. It is a story about the difference between the choices in our lives we are allowed to make and the choices we find we have no control over. And also a look at the lives of people suffering from crippling disabilities and their quality of life.
The story of Lou and Will is not one I will soon forget and these characters are ones who will stay with me for quite a long time to come.
Took me a while to do this, but here’s my top 10 books that I read (or for “Les Mis,” finally friggin’ finished) in 2012:
“Behind the Beautiful Forevers” by Katherine Boo
“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
“Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo
“Caleb’s Crossing” by Geraldine Brooks
“A Storm of Swords” by George R.R. Martin
“Fahrenheit 451″ by Ray Bradbury
“Between Shades of Grey” by Ruta Sepetys
“The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach
“Insurgent” by Veronica Ross
“Pope Joan” by Donna Woolfolk Cross
In “The Middlesteins” Jamie Attenberg takes a current problem in the United States — obesity — and makes it more real than the statistics and news stories that appear every day.
Edie Middlestein loves to eat, and eat, and eat, and eat. For her, food is the sort of happiness that never goes away, nor can ever be taken away. But her love for food becomes a happiness only for herself, and a plague for those who surround her.
Try as they might, Edie’s daughter, Robin, and her daughter-in-law, Rachelle, cannot rid Edie of her obsession. But this book delves much deeper than the issues involved with someone who is basically eating herself to death. This book is also about family and relationships. The fragile things that sometimes hold a family together, or sometimes tear it apart. After years of marriage, Edie’s husband, Richard, divorces her, unable to cure her of her need to eat. He wants to be able to live, and not die alongside his sick wife.
For a novel that deals with such real and relevant fare, it does pack a punch and gives a look inside a family where obesity is more than a national trend. But Attenberg treats the subject matter with a gentle, yet honest, wit. She transitions smoothly from past to present, showing vignettes of Edie as a child struggling with her weight, to having to surgery as an older woman. Edie can often come across as hard to like. Knowingly she is killing herself by eating so much, but doesn’t seem as ashamed or scared of dying because of her weight as one would think she should be. She often comes across as a very weak character. But Edie is not supposed to be perfect or a hero. She is wholly real, faults and hopes and all.
This is going to be a short one, and “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” may be one of my favorite books of 2012.
Katherine Boo worked for the Washington Post, reporting on the city’s low-income residents. after marrying a man from India, she visited the country, and from that comes here National Book Award-winning nonfiction novel about the slums of Mumbai, India. Boo followed families in one of the slums for three years, and from her insights and experience comes a fascinating novel of both despair and hope under such harsh conditions. The book reads like fiction and sometimes feels that way, too. Knowing so little about conditions in India in the slums, this book reveals so much. It’s an amazing read that I would recommend to anyone who loves a good story — no matter how heart-wrenching.
So if I have any avid followers (maybe not) then you may have noticed I haven’t updated this in a while. That’s beacuse last week I accepted the position as volunteer social media director for the Washington Independent Review of Books. It’s a great website, that will soon be even greater with a site redesign in the coming months, dedicated to book reviews and writing about the world of books and is produced by dozens of writers and editors, many of whom live in the Washington area.
I am really excited for this opportunity, but between this position and work, I may have less time for this blog. We shall see.
But for now, I would love it if you would check out the Independent’s website: http://www.washingtonindependentreviewofbooks.com/. And also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all your book news and reviews!
I love Google Doodles, and even more so when they are literary ones! Today marks Bram Stokers 165th birthday, and in honor of him, Google has a Dracula doodle on its homepage. There’s also an interesting article from the Christian Science Monitor on how Dracula inspired today’s vampires — from “True Blood” to “Twilight.”
Today is also the release of the 2013 books for World Book Night, and there are a lot of excellent titles chosen for this year. World Book Night is a way to celebrate the written word, with a night of sharing and reading. Bundles of (free!) books are sent out to participants and on April 23 those participants give them out to others who may not have easy access to books. The apply to be a giver, click here.
Happy Election Day, readers. I hope all of you have or will head to the polls today!