Wow. This book struck a lot of chords with me, good and bad. Honestly, this is a powerful book and there were so many aspects of this book that I loved. They were overwhelmed by the ending, which was extremely moving in its own way.
Louisa is a darling. I absolutely loved her. It’s not an understatement to say that she literally made the book. It’s not often that I feel such compassion towards a character, but she is adorable and thoughtful. She really is the heart and soul of the book. She never really thought of herself, because she’s a caregiver, emotionally.
Will is very likeable in his own way. At the start I did not care for him, but that’s how the author intended. He’s a broken man who went from being virile and active to a quadrapalegic. I can’t begin to imagine how devastating that must have been. His life was literally ripped out from under him when he was at his prime.
At first he’s cold and has no redeeming qualities. Louisa is such an enigmatic character, though, that she is able to break through his tough exterior. I was surprised when I discovered that I actually cared about him, finally. It wasn’t long after that realization that I began to feel genuine heartache for his situation.
There is so much more to this book than their relationship and the author is trying to make a point, although, I’m not sure if she pulled it off appropriately. Little does innocent Louisa know that she is his family’s last attempt to save him. He has decided that his life is worthless and his family is not worth sticking around for. Assisted suicide is a dangerous topic and the author really highlights both sides. If I had read this book a year ago I might have had a different opinion, but probably not. Some people just value living more than others, I guess.
So, on one hand is Will, who sees nothing but the life he used to live. Along comes Louisa and she is overflowing with life. Slowly, they grow to love each other and she finds out that she only has a short amount of time to convince him to not kill himself. Everything hinges on her and that’s more than one person should carry, but love is the most powerful force on earth. People choose to live or die or kill for love. Without it, it’s not really life.
There are so many heart-wrenching moments in the book where I could feel their relationship growing and the love building. She was almost inconsolable when he nearly died, but she keeps so much of her inner thoughts private. Through the author’s writing I could feel Louisa’s desolation when she almost loses him and when she discovers that she is the last chance for him. He’s already made the appointment and he’s a grown man with money who can do what he wants. After listening to the pleas of his loved ones he decides to do it anyway. Hired to entertain him, she is given a losing proposition she is unaware of for a long time. Of course, once she finds out the real reason she is around she tries harder and feels time choking her.
Spoiler alert for those who have not read this or seen the movie. All the love in the world couldn’t save him from his own despair. Even though he loves her and they could go on and have a happy life together, albeit a challenging one, he decides that her love and his family are not worth it to him. His claim that he doesn’t want to hold her back is just an excuse; he’s already made up his mind. Reading the end with her curled up next to him was emotionally and physically painful.
This is why I am not sure if the author got her point across or not. This book is beyond highly rated. Proof positive, it was turned into a major motion picture. It’s a bestseller and has thousands of pretty stars given to it on Amazon and Goodreads. Here’s the problem: is she trying to say that it’s alright to kill yourself if your life changes so drastically and you are so consumed with bitterness that you cannot stand the thought of living a second longer? That was what I got from it. I’m guessing that a lot of people who are survivors of suicide would agree that it’s not a good message. Millions of people live every day with major disabilities, many just as severe as his, but they don’t give up. They do not go gentle into that good night. They choose to fight for life and live it the best they can. Telling readers that it’s okay to choose death over family, love, hope and triumph does not sit well with me at all. Suffice it to say that I did not see it in the theaters. It was more than painful enough just reading it.
Now, for the rating:
- Genre and general reading age – it’s just good, emotional literature. It’s not a romance and it’s definitely nothing like science fiction. In one aspect, due to the reader, it could be considered horror. With such a hot topic I think it’s best to hold out until readers are adults. Maybe not until their mid-twenties. This book is so good that it holds the power to sway thoughts and opinions, so it should not be taken lightly.
- Level of sexuality – he’s a quadrapalegic. It comes up a bit, but only in thought and conversation.
- Was there graphic language – not that I noticed.
- Did I cry? You betcha. Buckets and buckets, including bitter tears of disbelief.
- Level of character development – Louisa starts out strong and gets better all the way throughout. She is almost the epitome of strength, although I feel that this could be something that breaks her. I will not read the next book, so I don’t know. Will starts off a bit stilted, but I think that’s because he was a jerk. Once he warms up, he is very enjoyable. I cared about him all the way up until he died, keeping my fingers crossed that he would have a sudden epiphany. It didn’t happen.
- How hard did I laugh? There are definite moments of humor, especially since she’s a bit of an odd duckling. That’s part of her charm, though, and even Will can see it. They were brief, happy moments strewn throughout a serious book.
If the ending had been positive in any way (if he has to die have it be through illness instead of depression and hopelessness) than I would have given this five stars. I picked it up and could not put it down. But, the book has to be taken as a whole and for the overall book I cannot give it a good rating with a good conscience. It pains me to give it ⭐️ star. Dealing with such a tender subject will always leave some readers angry and resentful. Do I wish I could go back in time and unread it? I kinda do.