This is such a beautifully crafted and emotionally driven love story that when I reached the last ten pages, I had to briefly pause. I simply did not want it to end. I needed to mull over what I had already read and hope against hope that there would be a fairytale ending, but I knew however the author concluded this novel, it would be well done.
When it begins, we meet two of the world’s “beautiful” people, planning a future vacation together. She wants easy, lolling on the beach, he wants rough, hiking and parachuting. On that day, when he leaves to go his high powered job, where he is CEO, he checks his phone messages and finds many missed calls. Because it is raining, he decides to leave his motorcycle behind and runs out into the storm to find a cab, not an easy task on nasty day in London or any major city. As he walks/runs, he begins to retrieve his messages, and his phone rings. Somewhat distracted, stepping into the cab, tragedy strikes Will Traynor.
Now, fast forward, two years later; we meet Louisa. She has just been fired. Her family relies on her salary to survive. Her sister, Treena, is a single mom, living at home as does her ailing grandfather. Her dad expects to soon lose his own job. In what has been a largely futile job search, Louisa finally answers an ad for a caregiver. Although she has no previous experience that qualifies her for such a position, she surprises herself by getting the job and then wonders, what she has gotten herself into, since her charge, a still handsome man, is rude and angry, most of the time. Once a free living, adventurous man, he is now helpless, confined to bed or a wheelchair. He is now a quadriplegic with little use of anything but one hand, and that, only minimally. He cannot adjust to this new unhappy condition. Louisa is not sure she is up to this job, but she desperately needs the money so she remains and works even harder.
Let me warn you reader, keep tissues on hand. As she cares for this defenseless, ill-mannered man, she comes of age, rather late in life. This is a tragic, bittersweet tale of unrequited love, not because there is no love, but because the love cannot be fulfilled. Will Traynor has a secret which will ultimately change the course of Lou’s life and his. Realistically, in his former life, their love never would have been allowed to see the light of day. It was the disastrous accident that brought these two people, diametrically opposed to each other, into the same sphere of influence. Coming from two different worlds, one rich, the other barely eking out an existence, one ambitious and adventurous, the other far less driven, living in the shadow of a brilliant sister, and content with very little, having very little ambition, one disabled, resentful, wishing he could do the things he once did and one able-bodied who has no wishes to do much else with her life, one will wonder how on earth will these two will even be able to interact in the same space, peacefully? Could two so different human beings find any common ground to travel? Well, in six months time, against all odds, Louisa brings color and joy into Will’s world, and he teaches her to expand her horizons and reach her potential. She wants nothing more than to do that, together, with him.
The author has taken a very grim topic and with the artful use of humorous dialogue, has made a very difficult subject easier to read about. Having to depend on someone for every need, having pain almost all the time, being unable to sleep, haunted by memories of what you once were and never will be again, essentially a prisoner in your own body is devastating, and the reader will feel that character’s extreme distress and his wish to bring that suffering to an early end. The reader will feel her frustration as Louisa agonizes over which is more important, her obligation to her job or to her boyfriend.
Although there are times when serendipitous coincidences or uncharacteristic behavior seems contradictory, the books mainly succeeds in inspiring the reader to think about a truly controversial topic, euthanasia, and to explore the reasons it is sometimes considered and the ethics and morality of the choices made by those involved in these kind of life and death decisions. This is a beautiful love story; Will gives Louisa an new lease on life, even has he contemplates taking his own.