The “Me Before You” Controversy

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So I’m sure by now, you’ve all been hearing about the amazingness that is Me Before You. What started as an incredible book, has become a highly anticipated movie that finally hit the box office this past weekend. Despite my love and adoration for the book, though, a disgusting barrage of germs and sickness has kept me homebound and unable to experience the film for myself quite yet. Take that as a PSA and keep in mind that this post may be slightly uninformed. But anyways…here we go.

I have a huge distaste for spoilers, so no worries; this post will not give anything away. Suffice it to say, however, the male lead in this book/film pairing is a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic who has a very negative point of view on his injury. This has been striking a lot nerves amongst wheelchair users and other disabled individuals. They’re concern over the book’s message is that it seems to say that this group of people can’t possibly live happy, fulfilling lives. That an injury, such as the one suffered by the man in the story, leaves you with nothing to look forward to.

Being that I can look at the situation with a touch of personal experience, I thought I’d offer up my own perspective.

This July will be almost eight years since my husband was paralyzed from the waist down. While his injury was not as bad as the one in the book, it still changed our lives forever. Our day to day experiences are now riddled with concerns over steps, elevators, tight spaces, ground material, and an array of other issues. But does this make our life any better or worse than another person’s? I don’t think so.

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With a little finesse and creativity, we have managed to fine-tune our way of life to a point where pretty much any obstacle is easily overcome. You should see the way we’ve worked a friend’s second floor apartment or managed to take a Christmas tree off the roof of our SUV. While things are not always easy, we are way too proud to ask for help (though, not always a good thing) and make it work no matter work.

Our life post-accident has been full of amazing adventures, wonderful opportunities, and happy memories. It’s a life I would not trade for the world. Ryan and I have chosen to view the positive side of his so-called “disability.” If it weren’t for that accident, our life would have been completely different, but would it have been more beautiful than it is now? We’ll never know so why choose to dwell on it.

Ryan is optimistic, brave, and has an overwhelming need and want to persevere. This personality and lifestyle is what the negative critics of the movie are fighting for. But just because the majority of us have accepted the hand we’ve been dealt and turned it into something great, that doesn’t mean everyone else feels the same way.

We have personally known so many men and women in situations similar to Ryan’s that have chosen a path of negativity and regret. They have a hard time coming to terms with their situation and can’t seem to find the light at the end of the tunnel. While this may not be something we would want for ourselves, and we would love to offer them any support they need to overcome their disappointments, it doesn’t mean we can wish it away and make those individuals feel and be anything different than what they are.

In terms of putting these stories onto page and screen, I’m of the mindset that everyone deserves something to relate to, something that might help them. That includes the harder side of things. We deal with things like addiction, abuse, and grief amongst many others in the media…why not the harsh realities that some disabled people suffer with?

That being said, however, the same goes for the happier, more optimistic side of disability. Though different than what’s often considered normal, I think our relationship and life is just as picturesque as other happy families and couples…let’s write a story about that. What do you say, Hollywood? Publishing companies? Can’t you offer something up for the rest of us?’

What do you guys think of this whole thing? Have you read/seen Me Before You, yet?

Color Me Shocked…My Jojo Moyes Experience

When it comes to books, I pride myself on the ability to figure them out before I even finish page one.  For that matter, I’ve usually determined what will happen before the books even open. Once in a blue moon, however, I’m wrong (don’t tell my husband!)

Every now and then, I’ll come across a story that’s completely off the cuff.  A novel that goes against the rules of storytelling and gives us something incredibly unique.  Most of the time, these books offer the reader a single moment that will cause their breath to catch in their throats.  The kind of moment that makes you wonder why you’re reading the book at all, and whether throwing the blasphemous thing across the room is the better option.  Except that you can’t, and you realize that this element of surprise kind of makes you love the book even more.

This being said, I present you with my top three “caught off guard” classics:

  1. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn: If you’ve been living under a rock, let me tell you this; when “the moment” happens, you will want to cry, scream and bitch someone out all at once!
  2. The Fault in Our Stars – John Green: Oh John Green, you terrible, wonderful man.  You ruined my life and gave me one of the most beautiful reading experiences all at once. One day in the near future, I fully intend to dedicate an entire post to nothing but singing your praises!

And finally, number 3. The most recent addition to my list:

Me Before You – Jojo Moyes

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Within the first few pages of this book, I was completely infatuated.  There was a lightness to Moyes’ writing that pulled at my heart strings.  She has a way of getting to you that you never dreamed possible.

This is the story of Lou Clark, a young girl who’s down on her luck after the diner she’s worked at for years closes down.  With grim employment options, she finds herself working as a caretaker for the wealthy Will Traynor, a quadriplegic who spends his days dwelling on the past.  When Lou first arrives to work for him, it’s truly rough waters.  She spends her days lurking around his home, avoiding him at much as possible.  Will, likewise, spends his days ruefully ignoring her.

In time, though, they develop an unexpected closeness that surprises them both.  Here’s where I’d assumed I’d “figured it out.”  An unconventional love story where both parties help the other to remember the joy and beauty in life, yadda, yadda, yadda.  Yeah, not so much.

Now don’t get me wrong.  They both do help one another to reclaim happiness in their lives, but the journey itself is quite shocking.  There comes a moment in the book where you realize what an idiot you’ve been.  You begin to understand that this is not a puppies and rainbows kind of story.  Believe me when I say that I spent the last 100 pages or so with tears streaming down my face.

If you choose to pick up this book, be prepared for that moment.  I won’t sugar coat anything, it will shatter your heart.  But if you give this book a chance, you’ll see just how moving it really is.  This is the first thing I’ve read in a very long time that pushed me to take a look at myself and evaluate each part of my own beautiful life.  In my opinion, Me Before You isn’t just a book, it’s truly an experience.