Why I hate Jojo Moye’s Me Before You

me before you

It’s hard for me to convey how much I hate Jojo Moyes’ supposedly romantic novel Me Before You, and dread the movie that is due out later this year. It is the story of a romance between a wealthy play boy become quadriplegic and his carer, although it’s a romance with a twist.

Spoiler alert: I need to discuss the ending to explain my hatred, so stop now if you (God forbid) want to read it yourself. But I begrudge anyone spending money that might find its way into the author’s pocket.

Okay, where was I. To borrow Moyes own summary, “the book is about a quadriplegic who wants to die.” Actually, the book is about a quadriplegic who wants to die, and at the end of the book chooses to do so – despite the fact that he found love and had a loving and supporting family, and so had an amazing opportunity to live a full and flourishing life. He was, after all, as rich as is a bottle of fine whiskey, and could have afforded any number of compensations to manage life with a disability– unlike most quadriplegics who are poor, but still choose to live.

So let’s not beat around the bush. This is a book celebrating suicide. Worse, it’s a book that presumes that suicide is the only rational response to the experience of living with quadriplegia.

In an interview about the book (available here), Moyes was asked whether she knew a quadriplegic before she wrote the book. She replied:

“not quadriplegics. The thing that really informed it was a member of my family who suffers from a progressive disease. I have been involved in feeding her, taking her out, and that kind of thing. Part of what inspired Me Before You was just questions I had in my head about quality of life.”

Bloody hell. Moyes (when you read that name, say it with venom) writes a book about quadriplegics and she hasn’t met one. Had she done so she would have discovered a community of people that have the courage to choose to live.

Now, before you get on your high horse and remind me that some people do choose to die, and that’s their right, let me say that I understand that quadriplegia is downright hard to live with, and many people have it much harder than I do. And the person that chooses suicide has my compassion and support.

But I’m not going to celebrate that choice. And I’m not going to allow someone who has never met a quadriplegic to continue the myth that those of us with the injury would be better off dead.

Right, breath slowly, relax. I’m feeling a bit worked up.

I guess if you are looking for a tear-jerking romance that will get you thinking, you might enjoy this book. If you do read it, I hope that you notice that it reinforces the stereotype that women need a man to tell them what to do, and that you understand that our play boy hero is really a privileged white guy who just can’t come to terms with the fact that life is fragile and difficult but that if you fight the good fight and persevere it’s worth it in the end.

89 thoughts on “Why I hate Jojo Moye’s Me Before You

  1. Thank you!!

    What’s really disappointing about the book is that the quality of the writing is surpisingly high. (Based on the film trailer, I don’t think it will suffer from the same betrayal of potential – it looks trite and formulaic, where the book is at least witty and occasionally thoughtful.) The problem is that Moyes wrote this book as a fictional response to a real case – that of Daniel James, the young British rugby player who became a quad in 2007 and took his life at Dignitas (with the reluctant cooperation of his parents) in 2008. So, Moyes did not approach this project from the standpoint of taking the authenticity of her developing characters to an internally-consistent conclusion; she was committed to the story’s conclusion before her characters were even conceived. The result was a story that, IMHO, went off the rails about halfway through, as the natural evolution of her characters (and the grossly oversold “romance” between them) gave way to the foregone conclusion of their pre-ordained path.

    And while the book enjoyed a fairly compartmentalized success as “chick lit” (you’re actually only the second man I know of who’s read it, and the other did so only out of morbid curiosity after I pointed it out to him), the movie promises to make far broader inroads into public discourse – to the great detriment and aggravation of wheelchair users everywhere, I fear. I’ve been dreading this ever since I heard, last year, that the film was being made, and now it’s upon us. It looks quite a bit worse than I’d imagined, and my imagination doesn’t lack pessimism. But at least it’s inspiring negative reviews – may yours not be the last!!!

    1. thank you, Lynn, for your thoughtful reply, and the extra information you provide. I guess the only good that might come out of the movie is that it may give us a chance to respond.

      1. Thanks, Shane. I do hope the voices of people with disabilities are heard in the wake of the movie release. The book quietly sold more than five million copies without any public objection that I was able to find. (Sadly, the fine work of literary criticism that was my Amazon review got buried under the seven thousand rapturous testimonies about cathartic sobbing. Would that I were exaggerating.)

        The fictional voices of quads who actually want to live are present in the book, but only in the most perfunctory and disembodied possible way – as members of an online support group who dutifully attest to their often-ambivalent commitment to carrying on with their lives. They are mere proxies for a point of view that the author obviously has no idea how to bring to life… having never gone to the trouble to meet the real people these two-dimensional abstractions are meant to represent. The contrast between these non-characters and the fully-developed ones is, IMHO, the most odious illustration of the author’s disinterest in letting perspective borne of lived experience intrude upon her pre-ordained tragic fable.

        I’m really afraid this movie is going to be far more of a nightmare than the book. Based on the horrid trailer, I am expecting something along the lines of Titanic meets Million Dollar Baby.

    2. Hello Lynn, awsome review! I was wondering: Do you do any sort writing yourself? Cause I’d be interested to read that!

    3. It is his choice but he isn’t a very inspiring character. Human beings are inspired by people that show great courage and resilience in the face of adversity. It’s OK for a person to give up but I wouldn’t make a movie about it. The human spirit will prevail but not in this movie.

    4. I just watched this movie tonight. Yes I cried, yes it was sad. What struck me was that life is not that simple as it is portrayed. As humanity we at least have a duty to send out the correct messages. The mere fact that the man was alive was proof that his purpose was not accomplished, his greatest goal in life was not reached, his contribution to society has not been fulfilled. He was alive.I think what is more sad is that he decided to give his life away. Many people across the world do not have this luxury. I think that in this time and age it needs to be clear what messages we are sending into the world because our messages influence society. When a child sees this message how will it share their perception of life. That life is to be lived selfishly within the paramaters you set for yourself. Or that life is a gift and as long as you are alive it should be celebrated to the fullest. You don’t need money to be happy or a mansion to smile. Many people get by with very little, sometimes nothing at all.

      What I would like to see is another movie made, a movie that speaks of the will to live the will to press on the will to change the world for good. Just like one life is changed for good it can have an impact on millions of lives when lived.

    5. A well-meaning person gave me this book to read; however, after glancing through it I had questions about its authenticity. I did a little research and quickly found that the author had minimal experience personally with people with severe disabilities. I have spent my life as a vocational rehabilitation counselor helping people who are disabled to return to work and to lead productive lives. Thanks for saving my time with both the book and movie.

  2. Thank you for keeping up with your blog and giving a tiny insight into the very real day to day life, (sometimes a bit too real) of living with quadriplegia. Thank you that you choose life and all the joy and hardships that come along with that choice.

  3. Have you considered contacting the author directly? Maybe it’s time she met someone from the community and heard exactly what you think of her book. Authors looooove feedback! You know I really like your life force. You’ve embraced this experience and are flourishing. I can understand why people say you inspire them. I’m not going to say that, but rather you challenge me not to run away, but instead be open to the fullness of life.

  4. Shane,
    I have to admit that I like the book but also like your POV, too. I just found your blog because of having read the book and wondering how real people living with quadraplegia feel about the contagonist’s decision to end his life. While I’m a sucker for love stories, I also started thinking that the character was a jerk to the very end. Before his accident he had lived only for himself…and that never changed. As you said, he had so, so many resources to make like worth while. He could have spent his life using those resources to help othes. And he had love. A beautiful girl who feel in love with him in his condition. How many people in the world long for that and suffer from loneliness even without disabilities? But nope. He was just stuck on not getting what he wanted. That being said, I cant imagine the pain of having to live with that kind of illness. (My disc slipped one summer and I couldn’t walk for three months. It was excurciating, but I recovered. Point being, I have no doubt it’s very difficult.) Of course, another lesson to be learned is that money doesnt give you a purpose in life.

    Overall though, I don’t think Will really loved Louisa-not in the way that binds someone to life. But then again, I could be wrong. We all feel down and wonder why we’re here at some point in our life. Thanks for sharing, though. I started as a care-giver six months ago and appreciate the insight of your blog.

    1. thanks so much for stopping by and adding your own insight. I think your interpretation of him is spot on, and Hattie understood what love is, he would have known that suicide is not the way to love someone.

    2. Thank you for this insight. I agree…Will never really loved Louisa! He seemed fond that something made his last 6 months slightly more interesting but never loved her.

  5. A couple thoughts here that i feel compelled to bring up. Yes, I completely share your feelings of frustration with Will’s decision. He is most certainly portrayed as an entitled, stubborn, rich cry baby that cannot cope with the first real tribulation that life throws at him. He is certainly not in the realm of one of my favorite literary characters. But I do not, and cannot, believe (after having read the second book, After You) that this is in any form a celebration of suicide. The second book, mind you much better than the first, basically benchmarks the wake of destruction that Will’s decision left for the people that loved him and how they each try and work through it. I also feel that Assisted Suicide is something that has been such a media hot spot in the last several years and that this book attempts to try and work through the circumstances that lead these people to make this decision. Not quite the best story for those who struggle to understand/agree with Assisted Suicide, but an attempt nonetheless.

    1. thanks, Kayla, for sharing. I don’t think the book is a celebration of suicide, I just think it buys into the assumption that people with quadriplegia want to commit suicide. The fact that the author did not know a quadriplegic before writing shows that she doesn’t understand the injury. And in terms of assisted suicide, the problem is that quadriplegia is not a terminal disease. Even if euthanasia becomes something supported by law, it should apply to those with a terminal illness. If it comes to apply to spinal cord injury, then in my view we have a serious problem. Best wishes, Shane

      1. I have a spinal chord injury, as well as other internal organ injuries due to a motor vehicle accident.
        I have great trouble walking and much of my Lumber spine consists of titanium these days.

        Although my level of disability isn’t on par with yours, I do have some measure of understanding. I am in a lot of pain every day and have trouble managing everyday tasks.

        I would rather suffer my pain a thousand times over than make my beloved family/friends/partner suffer through a heartbreaking assisted suicide. I just couldn’t do that to them.
        It’s their love and compassion that gets me through life, one day at a time–That and the desire to see more of the World!

        Being disabled is completely different from being terminally ill, (for which I agree with the choice of assisted suicide absolutely.)
        If anyone needs more proof that disabled people can be of great value to society, just look at Steven Hawking and the author of this article🙂
        The very idea of this film hurts my soul.

  6. I just finished the book, and found your site while google places to write a review. Your opinions are your own, but what exactly do you feel the author doesn’t understand about quadriplegia that was required to write a fictional story? I didn’t think the book assumed all quadriplegics want to commit suicide, but it’s naive at best and denial at worst to assume that the thought never crosses any quadriplegics mind. Someone already mentioned Daniel James. He was young, had money, and chose to end his life at Dignitas when he became a quad. He tried to commit suicide three times prior, but failed. Dating myself with this, but I remember when Christopher Reeve became quadriplegic, and he admitted he thought about killing himself.

    But that’s besides the point. There will always be someone that has something to say about anything someone does. The book was a lovely story about finding love where you least expect it and how that changes you. If the vehicle an author uses to tell that story hits too close to home, best to refrain from reading the book.

    1. it seems to me you haven’t actually read my review, or certainly haven’t understood it.The book may seem to you to be a lovely story about finding love, but it’s also about suicide. And it is written by a person who admitted to not meeting a quadriplegic before she wrote it. So, by killing off the quadriplegic, she unthinkingly buys into the general assumption that people with quadriplegia would be better off dead. this is a message that deserves criticism.

      1. I read your review just fine. The book is not about suicide. She uses it as a plot device, sure, but you think she’s saying suicide is the best option for quads, and I just don’t agree with that. Anyone who says the author is promoting suicide for quads either didn’t read the book or is just a naturally angry person who can no longer be objective. I suspect both apply to you, so I’m chalking this up to agreeing to disagree. Off to read the sequel.

      2. Would you say this book was lovely and romantic if it was about an able bodied person who committed suicide at the end? If the answer is no, then why is it different because this guy is a quadriplegic?

    2. I can’t believe that you would write this comment… especially on the page of someone who actually lives with quadriplegia.

      When you write: “…what exactly do you feel the author doesn’t understand about quadriplegia that was required to write a fictional story?” you make my blood boil. How about the fact that the author had NEVER FUCKING MET a person who had quadriplegia and knows absolutely NOTHING about their lived experiences. Further, this book relies entirely on a cliche so outdated, ancient, inaccurate, and at this point in time, fucking discriminatory. To continue composing books that write all disabled characters as people who, after becoming disabled, feel their life is not worth living does nothing to represent the REAL TRUE LIVES of people with disabilities. Further, this author could have never written a representative nor authoritative account of yhe life of a quadriplegic because she has NEVER FUCKING MET ONE. This woman perhaps assumes that everyone who is quadriplegic either wants to or successfully does commit suicide and therefore she can never meet a person with quadriplegia because in her mind, they’re all dead.

      Pfft. Your comment is ignorant. You come from a place of privilege where you see people that look like you or share your experience everywhere. Imagine living in a world where the only representative of your lived experience were novels and movies made by people who had never met you and literally make up what they think your experience may be like. And they decide it must be so bad to be you, that everyone who is like you commits suicide. How would you feel? How invalidated would you feel? That your life is so awful because of your disability that everyone just assumes you would rather die. And then this message us propogated everywhere until it’s not only commonplace but it’s also the ONLY REPRESENTATION. And you and your community, who are very much alive, thriving, joyful, and successful are purposefully ignored and your stories are never told. When you appear on screen you are wildly misrepresented and even played by someone who DOESNT HAVE YOUR EXPERIENCE.

      The success of this novel and film makes me ill. It is a sick and sad example of our society’s inability to see the lives of disabled people as anything of value or worth living. What a failure of our society to both represent and respect a community. Further, the disabled community is so extremely “othered,” ostracized and has been given very few accommodations. If our society truly included, respected and made space for people with disabilities we would completely eliminate stairs from our world architecture, have many representations of disabled people in all forms of our society (politics and government, in all forms of media, in our advertisements for all products (from cars to clothes), and in modelling and art and other areas of our world that we have deemed accessible only to able-bodied people), AND STOP ALLOWING THE ONLY REPRESENTATION OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES TO BE ONE THAT PORTRAYS THEM AS DIMENSIONAL PEOPLE WHO HATE THEIR LIFE SO MUCH BECAUSE OF THEIR DISABILITY THEY COMMIT SUICIDE.

      1. Great response. The author Moyes should have at least some her research if she wanted to write about such a sensitive issue. No one can truly understand what goes on inside the mind of a paraplegic, except the person with the condition, so it would have maybe prevented the backlash she’s receiving from some disability groups.

  7. Thank you so much for this review. Truly and sincerely, thank you. I wish I had googled reviews of the book before reading it last night. I didn’t know. How I wish I still didn’t. It’s very difficult for me to believe that a person who knows and cares about someone–a real, live someone–with quadriplegia could believe this book was romantic. The only way to accept the book’s ending is to accept…believe…Will’s life wasn’t worth living. Solely because of the quadriplegia. Which means the book is saying my real, living, breathing, caring, funny, intelligent, determined (and, on more than one occasion, aggravating) someone’s life isn’t worth living. That he and his life have no value. It makes me sick. Actually physically ill. It’s not right. And it’s not true.

    1. Hi Sarah it must have felt intense for you seeing as your partner has quadriplegia! I saw a small clip of the movie which then made me wonder about the book so my friend (1961) is going to give it to me she read and liked it. So after our time together I get back from being out and look for reviews and am like “ah, to read it or not to…” I would be happy to connect away from here if you too would and we can discuss various topics including paraplegia and quadriplegia. Emi xo ^^*

  8. Hey Shane-
    Do you feel that Moye tried to make Will’s life like he had a terminal illness? (definitely offensive!) After he had the bout with pneumonia and they discussed some of the daily routines that Clarke didn’t do after the wedding and could have killed him, I think Moye was trying to allude to Will just waiting to die in the next couple of years from illness or infection. This might be one of the ways she was trying to get the reader to empathize with why Will was choosing the path of suicide and why it was ok but I think everyone here is right that its pretty alarming that she is representing a whole community with this book without having even met anyone, if not an entire community of people who deal with this daily! Like uniformed journalism, publishers who bring a book to market with poor research are really doing readers a disservice.

    Emily

    1. I think I might have read somewhere that although she didn’t know a quadriplegic, she did have someone close to her die. So you’re probably correct – she has confused spinal-cord injury with a terminal illness. Your final illustration is spot on, and that’s the key point. It is offensive that a book like this, now being made into a movie, comes to represent a group of people but knows nothing about them. Thanks for your comments.

  9. Phew, a sane review. Thank you. I only discovered this, when I was nauseated by the film trailer. One of the biggest problems is a lack of representation for ‘real’ voices and disabled experiences. I would be less offended by the film (and book) if disability was more fairly represented in our society. Part of the problem is that it is so rarely present in literature and entertainment in the first place, then when it is… same old cliche’s.

  10. I found your review after I read the book. I found the book disturbing, and your review articulates better than I could the issues I had with this book. Actually the part of the book that most troubled me was that the character of Will (in my opinion) was the same at the beginning of the book as at the end. What is there for us humans if we do not have hope of seeing some measure of redemption in our short lives now? That Will can only have peace in death seems as short-sighted as a Christianity theology that sells grace as fire insurance with no true impact on the here-and-now. Perhaps a lesson to learn from Will’s fictional life is that we often are surrounded by hope and grace and blessing, but because they do not appear in the form we are expecting we do not see them and thus cannot experience them.

    While the book was a disappointment, your blog has not been. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I have enjoyed reading your blog entries.

  11. I appreciate your review because I felt anger, too, but for a different reason. Your comments cleared up something for me.
    I couldn’t put my finger on the unsettled feeling I had reading it – like it was written 50 years ago. I thought it made no sense that he and his family were rich but they couldn’t pay for the technology so he could be more independent? That was puzzling and a little disturbing, but that alone did not make me want to throw the thing against the wall.

    I was confounded by the main character’s lack of logic and sense making when he responded to the woman he loved that he agreed with her, that it was the best six weeks of his life being with her. In other words, the last six weeks in a wheelchair with her were better, much better, than all the previous years of his life. So why in the world did he want to end his life? Utterly and completely stupid ending. Not only is it hopeless for him, but for her, too. I love you but you are just not worth it? Yikes. This book felt dark and old and shallow.

  12. Interesting commentary – I similarly read the book, captured by it as it is well written… but bothered by the inconsistencies (the best six months but I am choosing to die anyway) and also the insinuation that unless one IS fully living a very particular sort of life (the glossy, stereo-typical he-man success life), then life isn’t worth it… I think that’s what I really reacted against in this story, as it is just such a flawed and very dangerous (at a societal level) type outlook.

    However I could empathise with the fear and constant pain as Will’s hellish companions and how that does people’s heads in (knowing a chronic pain sufferer who has been suicidal at times who also, frequently sees ‘no way out’ for it…) That was probably the only part of the treatise that actually made sense to me.

    The second book, dealing with the aftermath I have just started and does seem to re-balance it a bit – the shocking realities for the people left behind.

    So to me, the book ‘me before you,’ in attempting a treatise on why someone might be pushed to the euthanasia route (constant pain, ongoing decline in physical health) it unfortunately has also perpetuated some attitudes and prejudices society would do well to be without (that if you’re not living life as a ‘type a swashbuckling male (or female..)’ you’re not living and not able to give either..). And therefore like others who have written here, I worry just what might result if the movie, which may well have greater reach, has got the nuances wrong on a subject where we really can’t afford that risk.

    1. Hello,

      I’m German and thanks to my MS wheel chair bound and living in a nursing home – unfortunately with 34 years old and no other option. Just to put it in perspective where I’m coming from:

      I loathed the book! Granted, I’m not quadriplegic but two very dear friends of mine are. Actually you and the commentators have given all the reasons – for me personally while reading the book over a year ago the worst was his whole situation. He was wealthy – money is not everything but most people know that it’s important – he had a loving family and he found another person who loved him. Everything combined and he still followed through with his plan? A quad friend of mine asked dryly after reading the book why he is still alive since he’s lacking all those things (it was a snarky remark, he can be quite sarcastic) – and he nailed, didn’t he? Yes, I loathe the book.

      Now I have seen the trailer. I didn’t know there will be a film because I tried to forget about it. Now I’ve seen it – and read about it: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/may/22/me-before-you-film-love-disability-thea-sharrock-sam-claflin

      Still hate it. “It is really important to me that the film seems real to anyone who knows anything about this kind of disability. […] My nephew is in a wheelchair and I hope he will be pleased to see this shown in a way that does not make audiences too uncomfortable. If we had shown Will being taken in and out of his chair, or put in a hoist over a bath, the impression we would give is of difficulty. I wanted to make it more normal.”

      I… still don’t know what to think about it all. Just… we won’t watch this “tear jerker”.

  13. Thank you so much Shane! I honestly liked the book, but I did see the same privilege that you are discussing. Half of me wanted to fall in love with the romance of it all, but the whole thing did not quite sit right with me. I would love more representation of people with disabilities in mainstream media, especially as love interests, because I think that would be so good for the world. However, I am flabbergasted that Moyes had the audacity to write a novel about a disability she has never seen. I would love to read a romance novel about a person with disabilities that is written by an author with a disability. Do you have any recommendations? Thank you for your insight on the novel. It is always good for me to get opinions that hold weight on the subject.

    1. Thanks for commenting Sara. I confess I’m not normally a romance reader, but took on this one due to the content. So I don’t have a ready answer. But you’ve got me curious also.

  14. Hi Shane,

    I am a para and hence not even handicapped from a certain quad point of view.
    Bu then, what so many people miss, and a great many AB’s to start with, is the fact that every mother’s son is handicapped. Deeply. Tragically. Humanly.A monkey that can write Hamlet for heaven’s sake. And yet still realizes he is a monkey.

    Yes physical types have a harder time. But every rugby player and mountain climber either has to off himself or deal with progressive decay. And so does every other human on this planet.

    I remember one guy, a total stranger, telling me that if he were in my place he would kill himself. I asked him “why wait ? You are obviously unsuited to deal with life on a long term basis. Why not quit while you are ahead !”

    Which brings me to the book:

    After a little superficial thought, I have come to the conclusion that this is simply a small unimaginative twist on a very old theme. Some one mentioned “chick reads”, Of course ! Gazillions of books about beautiful young caring females who enter relationships with, to say it tastefully, elderly gentlemen. There may or may not be some geriatric sex. But the main point is that the girl always ends up with a serious inheritance. All through LOVE. And then she gets to spend it without having to put up with her benefactor in real life. All this book does is to insert a quad for the impotent rich old sod we are used to seeing in this genre.

    Of course many women can relate. It is a serious career plan. It has worked for uncounted numbers.

    But be careful, babe, most rich quads are just not going to cooperate. News Flash : They are not actually dying even if you imagine they are. Most of them will live a long time. And if they have even the beginning of a brain, they will be careful to keep control of their cash.

    So how about a sequel: Woman poisons dirty old quad who simply refuses to get with the program and die !

    Enough rambling.

    Feel the love,

    Gordon from Montreal

  15. I always see things differently.

    “The thing that really informed it was a member of my family who suffers from a progressive disease. I have been involved in feeding her, taking her out, and that kind of thing. Part of what inspired Me Before You was just questions I had in my head about quality of life.”

    If I were that person…would I see the book as a death wish for me? How could you not? We live in a culture of death before disability, and it should have a name, like the Eugenic Society did, so we can recognize it. The good thing about it is it may help one to understand the psychology of one’s enemies. That is a strong word, enemy, but…

  16. “That is a strong word, enemy, but…”

    Not at all, Brainy, absolutely justified.

    For instance, I have nothing against romantically suicidal people taking the long view and comparing our species to dinosaurs born to go over the cliff to extinction. But I do take exception to those same people trying to shut down the industrial revolution, send us back to the rain forest, and, as someone famous once said, a life that is “nasty, brutish and short”.

    And I take even stronger exception to the suicide bomber who just can’t go out gracefully without surrounding himself with disconnected body parts previously belonging to perfectly happy individuals, who, like the vast majority of disabled simply wish to go on leading their simple lives in piece.

    The euthanasia enthusiasts are a very similar lot to the terrorist, also wedded to an ideal release from life, except they, instead of blowing themselves up in solidarity, insist on sending their victims on ahead. “You today and me tomorrow” as the Stalinist thugs were reportedly fond of saying when they murdered one of their own who had fallen from the capricious favor of revolutionary political grace. AB’s counselling the disabled to give up their worthless lives and enter the land of no-more-suffering. But not them. Not yet.

    Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

    A sort of Anchorite activist.

    There is a pattern here: It is always about suicide, about death. We on the other hand cannot identify or understand, because we are, demonstrably all about life. And never the twain shall meet.

    Enemies indeed !

    Feel THE LOVE,

    Gordon from Montreal

  17. I must admit, not having read the book, my reasons for cringing at the movie trailer were far more frivolous. Nonetheless I hated the trailer enough to look up bad reviews, desperately hoping I was not the only one who thought the movie looked like garbage. Thank you for writing this review and giving your perspective on the story. I’m glad I looked up reviews to hate-read because reviews like this one have really opened my mind to a whole other, much more serious, perspective on why this book and movie are not only total garbage but a more insidious sort of garbage than I’d imagined.

  18. This review, along with the comments makes me really sad. Shows how unsympathetic people sometimes are. You completely missed the point of the book. You didn’t get the character. It wasn’t about love, it wasn’t about quadriplegia, it was about euthanasia and why people do it. Please read this, please understand. Sincerely, a med student. ♥

    Let me clear this up – The character might be in the similar situation, but he’s in NO way the same as you. Doesn’t have the same personality, doesn’t have the same past, doesn’t have anything other than the same disability as you. That’s why the author doesn’t need to meet a quadriplegic, I’m sure if she searched and searched and met you and 1000 of other quadriplegics, she would find a 1000 unique ways of how people dealt with it. Because that’s how humans are. She’d find 1000 unique mindsets. You need to realise that.
    So here’s the catch – the book is talking about Will. Him and only him! NOT generally about a quadriplegic. Only Will. That’s how books work… they’re not about you. They’re about a fictional character, that could exist. Meet Will. Get to know Will. Understand Will. HE was an adrenaline junkie, HE loved to travel, do crazy stunts, etc. HIM, not you, not me as the reader, not any other quadriplegic or whoever. Understand Will, him as a personality. His life changed and deprived him of his sense of being – adrenaline, moving around, doing crazy sports. This was the key to his story – him losing his sense of being, because he lost the ability to do what he loved the most. He lost his personality. The factor that deprived him of that just happened to be a quadriplegia, but in no way does that mean it was the KEY thing. It could’ve been some brain disease, blindness, you name it. Doesn’t matter, the book is not about quadriplegia. To give you a comparison, I’d feel the same about a book about a pianist, who suddenly couldn’t play anymore, because of some unrecoverable reason and was sure to never play again in his life. Or maybe a person who would get progressively worse with 0 chance of getting better and wanted to end his life so he’s not a burden to his family. Hence how the author probably got the idea, since she had an experience with progressive disease of a family member.

    As you might realise, this book is solely about euthanasia. NOT euthanasia of a quadriplegic, JUST euthanasia of somebody who lost the meaning of his life. Also it does not celebrate it, how did you manage to get to that, have we read the same book? It’s DISCUSSING it, it’s showing you another picture of what you might’ve thought about euthanasia, it’s taking you in the mindset of Will. And Will alone. But Will is not entirely fiction. Will hides in all of the people who chose medical assistance of euthanasia.

    That’s why this book is so important to me, as a med student who will specialise in psychiatry. Understanding the person. Understanding people who you’re least likely to understand. Ever heard of something and think “why on earth would he/she do that?”? A book is the epitome of understanding, of empathy. Because you get inside people’s heads, you see the world with their eyes. You don’t have to agree with them, but you can understand.
    Regarding euthanasia – I was always pro of ending the suffering if there was nothing else you could do. But I never REALLY understood how an otherwise healthy person could do that (like Will), how could you just end it if you could still be in love, still live the life, like Will could. Until I read this book. This book gave me a mindset of Will and I understand now. I understand completely. Once you’re stripped of what you think is the KEY to your life and your living on this earth and you will NEVER get it back, then I understand.

    Thank you for reading, I hope, once again, you realise this book is not about a quadriplegic, it’s about a person named Will, who chose to die.

    Best regards. ♥

    1. Of course it’s about euthanasia of a quadriplegic. That’s the whole point. The entire novel is predicated on the idea that quads would be better of dead. Quadriplegia is not a terminal disease so it’s not about euthanasia It’s about suicide.

      1. Well then, there’s nothing more I can do, if you read my comment and still don’t see it. Though I am at loss of words, what kind of a person you think the author is, since according to you, she wrote a book how quadriplegics are better off dead. Honestly, your interpretation of the book says more about you than of the author or us readers, who got a completely different perspective. We see and hear what we want to… maybe you should reflect on that.

        Thank you for the discussion, good bye and all the best.

    2. Hi Tiasha,

      You are deeply wrong. And it would be my pleasure to set you straight. However I do not want to waste my time if you are simply a troll whose satisfaction lies only in posting and then running away from the discussion you provoke.

      Therefore, I promise to help you out of your deluded, impertinent, dangerous and threatenning misconceptions, but ONLY if you promise to read and respond in proportion to my investment of time.

      feel the love,

      Gordon from Montreal

    3. Tiasha,
      If all you say is true about the character then the ending is a lie. Will agreed with Clark when she said their time together was the best time of her life. He said it was for him, too. Makes no sense. Honestly, if the only reason someone wants to die is because they can never do “crazy sports” again, what did she see in him? There are many, many things wrong with this book. The fact the author did not do her homework speaks volumes about its shoddiness. And that’s only the beginning of what I could say. I didn’t need reviews to tell me how much I hated it. Hated it. I have never hated a book before this one. It does not surprise me one bit that people are offended by it. It is archaic and misguided.

      1. I feel like I’m fighting darkness here on this forum. The ending is the most real thing you might read in a long time. Life is not a fairy tale where people just magically recover and magically change their state of mind with the “power of love”.
        Ending was painfully tragic. It showed us that you can have all the money in the world, true love and everything a person wants, but missing the key piece of your soul, it’s not going to be enough. I really took some time and think this book through. It took me a while to realise that. He lost what defined him, his sense of self-being. I don’t know if you ever took any psychology, but having a sense of self is crucial. It means you can paint yourself a future accordingly to how you perceive yourself. Without that, you can’t see a future for yourself as long as you’re deprived of that thing that defined you. I was sure if he found love and new happiness, had the best time of his life (like you pointed out), he’d find new sense of self and therefore he’d change his mind. I was sure of that, until they fell in love and he said “it’s just not enough”. Meaning, new love was not enough to get himself a new sense of self-being.
        The book is truly a masterpiece. It doesn’t have an ending we might’ve been rooting for, but it has a real ending. We already have this book on our wall (in med school) of recommended fiction literature. Because it directly operates with euthanasia, one of the most controversial subjects in medicine.

        I slept on thoughts about this review and realised some things as well. I understand the author of this review now. Like I said before, if you get offended by this, it says more about you, because you might be portraying this on yourself too much and how YOU’D deal with it. Now I understand for a disabled person to have a strong emotional response to this book. It’s a defence mechanism. It’s tough to “go there”, see someone with the same disability commit assisted suicide and say to yourself “oh, okay, he had a good reason for that.” Because it might hit too close to home. Then you might start thinking “do I also have a reason for the same thing?”
        No. Definitely not. Just like I don’t, you don’t, because you’re not Will and never will be. So there’s no point in seeing yourself in this book. But someone might not see that. I understand how some people might have trouble detaching themselves from the book. That’s why I do think this book should have a trigger warning for disabled.
        For those it would be definitely better to not read this book at all.

        Best regards, Tiasha.

      2. I didn’t hate this book because of the ending. I hated the book because it made no sense. The setting was 50 years ago, not today. It felt wrong from the start. It was not thoroughly researched. I could tell because I was alive 50 years ago. The ending added to my dismay because it lacked in hope for everyone. Not because the ending was ‘real.’ The ending was not real. It was easy and put a trite sheen on the entire premise behind the issues in the book. I don’t like predictable, happy, pie-in-the sky endings. This ending was just not believable.

    4. Thank you! I kept wondering, before seeing the movie or reading the book, why many of the local MD community was complaining about it. I went to see the movie anyway because my son is an adult with DMD and this story hits too close to home. And I have always been interested in death and dying. Having been an RN for 43 years I witnessed dying of children and always wanted to make it better for them and their families, make it mean something. I will now find Moyes books to read more.

    5. Bravo! Beautifully said, and accurate. Unfortunately, it’s going to fall on deaf ears here. The owner of this log has tunnel vision on this topic. He’s not objective. I’m not even sure he wants to be. I read his response to you, and his holier than thou attitude is very apparent apparent. Still, I get the feed to replies in my email, and your reply was a joy to read. Good luck in your medical career. I can tell you’ll be a great doctor.

      1. The owner of this blog has a name that you might consider using. And the hypocrisy of your comment staggers the imagination. You suggest that I have tunnel vision and am unwilling to listen. But you have point-blank refused to hear from the myriad of comments of disabled people posted on this blog, and elsewhere – who overwhelmingly are telling the able-bodied community that books like this one diminish them.

        As is apparent by the fact that I publish all comments, whether or not they agree with me, I welcome diverse opinions. But you are now being rude to me, and the fact that you feel comfortable doing so on the blog of a quadriplegic who is speaking from his heart says something about your character.

  19. Dear Tiasha,

    Thank you for returning.

    I would absolutely love to help you, and I will if you allow, but first, you really must gain a more humble perspective on the present context.

    Take this quote from your last post:
    Tia: I think this book should have a trigger warning for disabled.
    For those it would be definitely better to not read this book at all.

    I burst into involuntary laughter when I read this ! Think about it: An AB med student, that is a mere child, presuming to “protect” people (that would be exactly the people she is conversing with here) from getting “triggered” by the very book which we are discussing ! Of course ! The whole situation becomes clear. It is a misunderstanding:
    Shane wrote a nonsensical review of the film because his psychological wounds –naturally resultant from his disabled status– make it “difficult” (understandably of course) for him to admit the truth of your more profound interpretation. But then, Shane should never have had to put himself through the useless exercise of writing that review in the first place, because, to begin with, it would be the duty of well-balanced psychiatric hopefuls like yourself , to protect him from reading such “difficult” books at all !

    So Shane SHOULDN’T have read the book, and he SHOULDN’T have written the review, and while he SHOULD perhaps be gently rebuked for “triggering” all the other emotionally fragile people on this forum, (who SHOULD all be ideally kept away from any depictions of the disabled other than those featuring Ernie and Big Bird), all is well that ends well, smothered in condescending hugs and kisses.

    That is a lot of “should”s coming from someone quite new to these questions. In fact, the arrogance and the hard-core anti-intellectualism incarnated in such a position is staggering !
    (So what’s next –Gordon asks himself sardonically– ? Tranquillizers all around for Shane and the followers of his blog ? Straight-jackets and giant orderlies?) Please .

    You are young. You are beautiful. You are caring. You are clever. You are capable of redemption. Allow me to suggest another interpretation, not of the book, but of the social interaction we are engaged in now:

    Despite the certainties of your twenty-odd years. Despite the fact that you have a wall with books on it. All about difficult sensitive subjects like euthanasia. (Probably added to the wall by an algorithm which automatically pulls out all works tagged by that keyword, the wheat with the chaff, the sublime with the idiotic). You have wandered into a space where you are, intellectually, far beyond your depth.

    You have entered a place peopled with individuals who have thought DEEPLY about subjects of which they have INTIMATE personal knowledge spanning, in many cases, multiple DECADES.

    It is as though a nonchalant Martian visitor, armed with a plot synopsis of Tristan and Isolde, were to accidentally enter an assembly of lifelong Wagner critics, performers and theorists; sublimely ignorant, but no less generously prepared to correct their obvious errors.

    The good news, is that you really could learn something here about the theory, practice, social implications, political and legal history –and yes, even the Psychology- of euthanasia, far, far, beyond what you could gain from the intellectual dwarves presently surrounding you, who substitute “book walls” for analytic knowledge, who avoid real discussion by “triggering” anything that is sufficiently significant to cause controversy, and who, if I can judge from your own behavior, — when confronted with a contrary view you cannot immediately integrate–, will search for an explanation in the psychological failings of their fellow enquirers.

    So once again: If you really want to explore these subjects. You have come to the right place. Your return to defend your first posts is a very positive sign. It shows pride and ability. But I warn you: the facile pre-conceived notions on euthanasia, and the disabled, which are currently prevalent in “educated society” and quite obvious in your posts, are not in fact established truth. They are, actually, only a simple dogma adapted to allow the ignorant to feel informed and competent.

    So. Shall we begin ? For real ?

    Feel the love,

    Gordon from Montreal

  20. I read the book a few years ago and while I couldn’t identify with Louisa,I cried at the end and I totally get why it was so successful and the movie will be too. Women and girls LOVE Will. It’s the formulaic play on the female fantasy of the powerful God-like man/boy whose power is taken away ( ie, the high school basketball star whose lost his leg and can’t play anymore in “The Fault in Our Stars,” any superhero who can’t fly or lift buildings or run fast in front of the girl he loves because she’ll find out he’s a freak, the Vampire who can’t get intimate with the heroine because he’s so attracted to her that he might get out of control and kill her) but he still LOOKS God-like and it totally works. If Will had lost his money and job and fabulous life for some other reason, like imprisonment after drug possession (a one time thing that he got into when his lifestyle got so “big”) and wound up living at home friendless and penniless after a psychologically devastating couple of years in prison and Louisa was hired to “show him a happy drug-free world again,” it STILL would have worked.

    The ending is extremely controversial, but it didn’t bother me because I just figured, this is HIS personal decision, not a statement on the value of life in a wheelchair. I actually liked the part where she said, “Aren’t I enough (to want to live)?” and he said “No” because I felt like it was making a comment NOT about life not being worth living in a wheelchair, but that in real life, “true love” alone doesn’t solve everything like it does in the movies.

    I think the main problem that upsets people about the ending is the lack of development of Will’s character. He is a great character, and I loved him too, but I think in this situation, he had to come across as more than just the “everyman angry hot guy in the wheelchair.” The problem is that the way he is depicted, the audience is supposed to identify with him. He is the generic comic book hero. Before the accident (at least in the book) he is shown in a few pages to be a kind, successful, dashing, athletic bachelor, even wanting a woman less vapid than the beauty queen he is with. He’s the perfect man. He has no demons that make you say to yourself, “That is not me–I don’t think like that and I would never kill myself.” It was HIS choice. I like what Tiasha the med student said: “He lost what defined him, his sense of self-being” and that’s why he didn’t want to live anymore. But not enough of his character was shown to differentiate him from people who WOULDN’T do that. Even though I respected his choice, the character that he was shown to be would have predictably chosen to live.

    So I’m not just a Hater.
    But I am a plastic surgeon.

    The main problem that I had with this book (even before you quoted the interview above) is that, as a plastic surgeon who has operated on and taken care of many spinal cord injury patients, including being in charge of a VA Spinal Cord Unit during my training, I could tell by reading it that JoJo Moyes had NEVER SPENT TIME WITH OR PROBABLY NEVER EVEN MET a quadriplegic. Not ALL of the unpleasantness that the rest of the world doesn’t see needs to be there, but in an intimate love story with such high stakes, SOME of it should be. It should be raw. As a medical professional, it was offensive to ME that someone could write such a glossy love story on such a serious topic without doing any real research. This isn’t the Vampire/Werewolf world where every author gets to make up their own rules. It’s not TV CSI where the forensic scientist’s job is depicted as way more glamorous and exciting than the job of a real-life forensic scientist (My husband is a forensic scientist.) It’s not even a fantastical TV Emergency Room world where every five minutes the most exciting, rare traumas burst through the door and unrealistic medical dramas with life-saving surgeries that don’t really exist play out. While those inaccurate depictions are annoying to watch for those of us with experience, they are not offensive, just really stupid.

    But this is different. In day-to-day life, quadriplegia is not just “paraplegia but more.” It’s not just a hot guy sitting in a wheelchair who just happens to not be able to move anything except for his head. There are so many physiologic and anatomic issues. The “heavy lifting” that Lou was “not hired to do” is a constant that whoever is paid to be with Will needs to be savvy about. I guess that’s what bothered me the most, that the “heavy lifting” wasn’t taken seriously and was overshadowed by the improbable fantasy love story. Not that the love story couldn’t have happened, but it happened in a world that completely plays down the details of this serious situation.

    Maybe there WAS some of this in the book and I just don’t remember but I can’t bear to open it again. But based on the comments above and others I’ve seen, I think I’m right.

    One thing I LIKED in the book that it seems movie critics did not was the part where Lou tells him about the rape and he tells her it’s not her fault. Personally, I think that THIS actually WORKS. This is the formula. This is the weakened hero exerting whatever POWER he has left–the experience of a man who has slept with a lot of women, had a great sex life, and we assume was amazing in bed. Even though he no longer can physically have sex–he IS AN EXPERT and can assure her that in no situation is non-consensual sex ever a woman’s fault. Only Will has the power to erase Lou’s guilt and fear so that she can move on with her life. He can still be the hero and “save” her. Whether or not readers realize it, I believe that THIS is the fantasy part.

    Glad I found your site here because while I agree that it is a very successful love story, so many people don’t understand how offensive it is to anyone living with a spinal cord injury, or anyone who has participated in their medical care.

    Thanks for letting me vent.

  21. I love your thoughts on the book and I’m encouraged to know this is not how many who are quadriplegic feel. I finished reading the book today, wanting to read before seeing the movie and I was shocked at how hopeless it all felt. Im so glad you are a voice for a community of people that will likely be entirely misunderstood because of this book.

  22. Thanks so much for this. I’m disabled through severe ME and a wheelchair user, and was surprised when people went out of their way to recommend this book to me. I mean, what message is that sending me??
    Some have pointed out that the girlfriend and parents don’t want him to die but respect his position. Then, they protest, the book is not pro-suicide for disabled people but anti-suicide! But that is not the point. In Khaled Housseini’s book, And The Mountains Echoed, there is a character in there who needs round the clock care. Her sister protests that she doesn’t mind caring for her, but actually she’s really tired and worn down. So the sick character goes off in the desert and dies. The carer sister protests and is indignant – but ultimately benefits because she can start ‘living her life again.’ Although the carer protests, it is clear that as the reader we are supposed to think that the disabled person has done the ‘honourable thing’ by dying – and, crucially, the carer benefits from her death.

    Same pattern in this book. Although the carer characters protest, we are left feeling as readers that it was ultimately a good thing that he dies because he would never be happy, even with love and money – and the carer benefits from his death after he’s gone. So we’re left thinking, ‘how noble of him to die.’ This is f***ed up.

    Imagine the story told from his poiht of view. A lot of newly disabled people – maybe even the majority? – want to commit suicide at some point as they process the grief of their disability. Joni Eareckson Tada is one such person. Her family did not ‘respect her decision’. They responded as any family would when faced with a suicidal relative (disabled or otherwise). They said no. They said they loved her and would not help her to die. She was angry at first but eventually profoundly grateful for them saving her life.

    What message is this sending about disabled people? What if the story was told from his point of view? The story very much smacks of being a good account of the struggle it is to care for someone, but not necessarily true from the point of view of most disabled people

    1. Tanya:
      I’m disabled through severe ME and a wheelchair user, and was surprised when people went out of their way to recommend this book to me. I mean, what message is that sending me??

      Dear Tanya,

      Absolutely astounding is it not ? People who are close and purport to care about you (in my case even my own father) going out of their way to make it absolutely clear that they would “understand” your choice to do away with yourself !

      It is such a flabbergasting proposition that no reaction could be adequate.

      Naturally I didn’t argue this out with friends and family. Much better to just let it slide.

      But here, in a neutral intellectual space I and several others have argued the matter: carefully. humorously. ardently, respectfully. The full gamut. From love and from experience.

      And you can see the result:

      Self satisfied AB’s mistaking their uncritical adoption of the grossest prejudice to be penetrating thought (“barely conscious pond scum” I am tempted to echo the Giant Bug from “Men in Black”).

      And nothing, absolutely nothing, amazingly, can convince these creatures that they just do not know of what they speak. Or that what they do speak represents a dangerous assault upon a whole class of people who have enough to do with survival without needing to justify their right to exist.

      Be brave. Be beautiful. Be ordinary. (And you may well bury them all !)

      Feel the Love

      Gordon from Montreal

  23. Dear Friends,

    The facts in this case can be dismissed with few words:

    1) Some person (whose name I can’t remember) decides to write a romantic tear-jerker, offering a well-worn (but perennially successful) package of emotional stimulation for the target reader.

    To this end, we are presented with a Common Girl (socio-economic and cultural) who finds fairy-tale access to Superior Male Specimen (equivalent to Prince of earlier times). True Love is achieved. Lovers are separated by Death, which Death, being voluntary and deliberate, provides pretext for all sorts of teary negotiations and emotional transports (earlier model would likely involve a Duke –or at the very least a Count—bound to offer himself up in sacrificial combat for patriotism or personal honor). Surviving female accordingly takes on both the mystical social status of her lover (as the surviving paramour of said heroic specimen) and actually replaces him as living socio-economic persona through the helpful agency of Inheritance. Accordingly enjoys full benefits of successful Black Widow, without the moral stain associated.

    2) In order to find a marginally original context to reproduce this classic recipe for sentimental literary onanistic indulgence (and also to provide a superficial connexion to current events and fashionable ideas, which might even lead the naïve reader to imagine this to be a Serious Book), said unknown author, of modest gifts, hits upon the idea of casting said Superior Male in the role of an Accident Victim who courageously prefers suicidal death to any diminished physical existence.

    The outlines of this story are kept childishly simple, even to the extent –and absolutely guaranteed by the fact— that our intrepid author chooses to afflict her beloved SMS with a Terrible Condition (paraplegia) of which she is entirely ignorant. Well, so much the better ! No chance of getting drawn into introducing silly realistic details which would confuse the narrative. The actual circumstances are utterly irrelevant, as long as the emotional cartoon can be supported.

    In this vein, our ever perceptive and psychologically keen Tiasha has remarked:

    “It could’ve been some brain disease, blindness, you name it. Doesn’t matter, the book is not about quadriplegia.”

    Bingo ! Quadriplegia is simply invoked as an appropriate Terrible Condition. And it doesn’t matter what Terrible Condition is referenced. Within the limits of good taste (of course our SMS has to be at least visually attractive) any TC will do as well as another.

    The only requirement is that the average reader (who will be statistically just as ignorant as our Poetess) must find the suicide-better-than-diminished-life narrative minimally plausible. And, to the credit of our nameless author, reaction to the novel would show that at least this goal has been achieved.

    Now it is here that we can really draw some useful conclusions considering the social context in which this little drug store paperback page-turner was unfortunately produced and secondarily, the actual effect that this book, and movie, are apt to produce upon evolving public opinion regarding euthanasia.

    As for context: the condition of “plausibility” is achieved by tapping into the pre-existing social prejudice to the effect that there ARE, in fact, Terrible Conditions (of which paraplegia is the most cruelly belabored in contemporary fictional representations) to which the PLAUSIBLE reaction of the typical (courageous) SMS will be to commit suicide.

    This is, of course, a terrible, terrible, reflection upon current society, and an equally onerous burden upon all quadriplegics, unfairly singled out, perhaps, but also the mere token representatives of ALL people afflicted with similar Terrible Conditions, which is to say ALL disabled individuals. A broad brush and a terrible curse indeed! But this is the fact. This prejudice does exist. Full strength. Everywhere that ignorance prevails. It is quite simply our daily lot. And as such, this one faceless, nameless romance writer did not invent or create it, she simply picked it up, like a stone off the beach, and more or less innocently used it to make her book believable to those others, equally ignorant and unfortunately very numerous, who already happen to share it.

    But what then does this book actually do ? What is its’ actual effect ?

    Well first, it reinforces the above prejudice by the simple act of referencing it; by inviting the reader to agree that this plausibility has in fact been achieved; and thus, to entice them to follow along with the body of the work.

    But also it does much more than that.

    As stated by the very intelligent Lippo Lady (whose explanations I found most helpful):

    “Women and girls L-O-V-E Will”

    And that is the problem. Different contributors have gone on with all sorts of analysis, as in, “Will did this” and “Will did that”. But, (excuse the irreverence), THERE IS NO “WILL” ! “Will” is a fabrication. An artifact. A fictional character, created with no other purpose than to serve as the generic focal point in a work built around the hackneyed romance formula referenced above. It was designed to fulfill no other purpose than the production of recreational literary pleasure through the conventional manipulation of fantasy, sentiment and, to speak clearly, to facilitate the solitary exercise of that particular form of literary self stimulation which has no name, but which might perhaps, be conveyed by whatever term might most tastefully translate, into the feminine context, the meaning of that more commonly encountered colloquial verb, “to wank”.

    That’s it. Period. This ignorant nonchalant literary creator (who shall henceforth remain deservedly nameless) has deliberately created a LOVABLE fiction, figment and instrument of her erotic purpose, whom she ARBITRARILY decided would KILL himself (rather than to subsist with his Terrible Condition). And to the extent that other ladies are brought to share this “love”, (and because nothing is more characteristic of feminine love than UNDERSTANDING), vast hordes of female readers, and viewers (potentially) will be brought to “understand” and “respect” the “decision” of the Superior Male Specimen “Will” (that pathetic cartoon equivalent of an inflatable intellectual sex toy) and TRAGICALLY (in all serious usage of that word) to transfer the insights thus gained to their real understanding of, and interactions with, real people living real lives, who happen to correspond to the definitions and prejudices discussed above.

    In other words, this book and film have the potential to significantly reinforce these prejudices in the popular mind, and therefore, they represent a direct attack upon the physical security of disabled individuals everywhere.

    The author should not be praised. She is too ignorant (probably) to understand it, but in the disabled world, she is guilty of the intellectual equivalent of Genocidal War Crimes. Another case among many.

    Feel the Love,

    Gordon from Montreal

  24. In no way am I trying to offend anyone but IT IS A BOOK, A FICTIONAL BOOK. Yes, it is about a man who wants to commit suicide because of his disability but last time I checked, no where did the author or any promoter of this book or movie state that this desire was true for every disabled person or that all disabled people are better off dead. Its about one fictional guy and his own preferences. Everyone goes through hard times, disabled or not, and I admire anyone who pushes through hard times. This movie isn’t a jab at disabled people, its not promoting suicide. Its a fictional love story where in THIS PARTICULAR CASE, the character wants to commit suicide. I’ve read plenty of books about non-disabled people committing suicide and that’s perfectly fine to use as entertainment but make them disabled and there’s a bloodbath. IT IS FICTION, IT IS NOT MADE TO OFFEND PEOPLE. And I have seen PLENTY of comments about how “this shouldn’t be used as entertainment.” WHY THE HELL NOT. Everything else is, abuse, suicide, rape, drugs, all these horrible things are shown in entertainment every single day and no one bats an eye. Everyone just needs to chill and realize this movie isnt about them.

  25. That was very bold of you to say, and I completely agree. You worded it perfectly – how this book is in fact, not an inspirational story or romance at all. I think it’s actually sad how the girl drops her current boyfriend because she’s found real love and then is rejected when there is no actual reason for her lover to die!! Too bad the media is praising it with the new movie release :/

  26. As I scrolled along the comments, it was remarkable that the only mistake Moyes has done, according to some of you, was not meeting a quadriplegic. But how would the latter bring change? Meeting a quad and being one are too different things. I think this whole book was meant to reflect the stereotypes that people hold for the fate of disabled persons. The whole thing about the ending, suicide, is what most people think is best suited for quadriplegics. Sometimes by reflecting what people hold of wrong ideas, an inner understanding is to be met.

  27. I have an acquired disability due to a long-term chronic disease. Prior to that I was a health professional working with people with a wide variety of diseases and disabilities. I read the book. I see a fictional character with a particular disability who wants to and does commit suicide, while the fictional characters around him don’t want him to commit suicide. No more, no less. That fictional character’s fictional choice is…that fictional character’s choice. There are real people with my disease who commit suicide. They are making a choice. I find it incredibly sad that anyone, sick or well, disabled or not, makes that choice. It is different from my choice, and from that of most people with my disease, but if I just reject their choice to die because I feel it has implications for my choice to live, then I’ve missed a chance for compassion for someone who needed it.

    When I read a book where the fictional character chooses to rape someone, or murder someone, I do not interpret that book’s message to be that I should rape someone or murder someone, even if I identify with that fictional character due to similarities between us. Nor would I interpret the book as suggesting that the prevailing societal view is that rape and murder are OK. I find it much more offensive when people with disabilities are portrayed as uniformly “inspiring,” “brave,” finding ways of living incredibly full lives “despite” their disability. Will was an asshole. I didn’t like his character before he acquired his disability, or after, but I did develop compassion for his view of his situation. For me, that’s the beauty of fiction. I don’t have to reject his fictional choice to be OK with my real choice.

    1. K sez: Nor would I interpret the book as suggesting that the prevailing societal view is that (suicide, sic.. ) (is) OK. I find it much more offensive when people with disabilities are portrayed as uniformly “inspiring,” “brave,” finding ways of living incredibly full lives “despite” their disability.

      Dear K,

      These two attitudes are not in opposition. They are complimentary.

      The prevailing societal view has a dual nature. There are two acceptable ways for gimps to define themselves:

      1) They may be (as you say) be “inspiring,” “brave,” finding ways of living incredibly full lives “despite” their disability.

      or, failing that, (not perhaps possessing the statistically minuscule chance of exhibiting the superior traits required for the first strategy)

      2) They can (quite understandably) kill themselves,showing, at least, the “courage” to put an end to their useless, failed, existence.

      What is missing, of course, would be the radical notion that perfectly ORDINARY gimps, are able ( and entitled) to live entirely ORDINARY gimpy little lives, without being rich, without discovering a cure for cancer, and without the assumption that (in the absence of any extraordinary feat of body or intellect) their (our) lives have no value.

      But guess what ?

      We still do.

      Twisted wank-books and snuff movies be damned

      Feel the Love,

      Gordon from Montreal

  28. I cried after reading the book. WHY DID WILL HAVE TO DIE? I thought Will would have a change of mind and realize that life was worth living after all. My father just died last, last week due to cancer. He was oxygen ventilator dependent and bed ridden for almost two months. He could not talk anymore because of the tube inserted through his mouth. He could hardly move. I saw dad’s suffering in Will’s. The catheter. The feeding. The bouts of infection. And I saw my life in Lou’s. BUT the difference was that dad never gave up until the end. He never lost hope until the end. Every time we encouraged him and told him how excited we were to bring him home, he would nod his head. Despite the suffering and pain he had, he wanted to live. He wanted to be with us. He wanted to walk me down the aisle someday. He lived with hope.

  29. Why has no one commented on how badly written and researched this book is? I work in a library and it is constantly requested so I  thought I would try to read the paperback version, although it’s not my chosen type of reading matter. I won’t go to see the film.

    This book is even worse than the E L James “Fifty shades’ series because of the serious content and the way quadriplegia is portrayed. It’s just not credible. And the author has made SO many mistakes in the text and plotline. I think it’s also a very irresponsible book as it is so poorly researched.

    Early on (page 2), in a bedroom scene with Lissa, Will kisses her goodbye. She’s propped up in bed leafing through travel brochures. “He leans over the bed to kiss her. She smells warm and perfumed and sexy. He inhales the scent from the back of her hair …” Where’s that? Is there a front and back of hair? Does the author mean the back of her head? The nape of her neck? Who knows?

    Why does Will ask Mick the security guard about the weather? Does Will’s London flat not have windows he can look out of and see that it’s “raining cats and dogs”?

    London pavements aren’t “mirrored” (page 4). That would be indecent.

    The accident scene is in the Prologue which is dated 2007. Lou enters the scene in 2009. Why do people think it’s set 30 or 50 years ago?

    Her family struggle financially yet the mother “keeps the heating on all year round” whilst “Dad is always opening windows”. Come on! That’s just stupid and unrealistic. “Apple juice … was too expensive”. Turn the heating off then! The Mother, who apparently never sits down and is in constant motion, would generate her own heat and wouldn’t be a “martyr to the cold”.

    I’m not sure that the “Job Centre” (as it was then) is allowed to offer pole dancing and adult chat-line supervisor jobs. Perhaps someone can confirm this?

    The woman leaving the house before Lou’s interview was wearing “white slacks”. Slacks were a 1960’s clothes item. Made of Crimplene with elastic from the trouser hems to under the arch of the foot. They went out in the 1960’s. And Crimplene was a sweaty non-breathable material which only lasted into the early 70’s.

    She wouldn’t have called her dad “Bernard” (page 32). The author might but this section is written in the first person from Lou’s perspective.

    Mrs Traynors “cross on a chain around her neck” is actually called a crucifix necklace. Why doesn’t the author call it by it’s rightful name?

    Why is Lissa described as having caramel coloured skin? This term usually describes mixed-race/bi-racial people. Is that what Lissa is?

    If Will so enjoyed the cut and thrust of his job why didn’t he continue with it? As he says himself his “brain wasn’t paralysed”. He had the financial means to work from home and get equipment to help him to do so. It’s unrealistic to think that a determined, intelligent, ambitious person wouldn’t have done that. But that wouldn’t have worked with the authors plot device of needing to have him wanting to end his life would it? Did he get counselling after the accident? That would have helped too. What happened to the motorcyclist who ran him down? Was there a court case? We don’t know. All unrealistic.

    Lou picks up one of the “labels of medication” (page 42). Maybe she picked up one of the bottles or vials of medication?

    Why is Will long-haired and unshaven? He has Nathan to attend to his personal needs. What subject is Nathan studying when he’s not on duty? It’s never mentioned. And yet he has spare time to go on trips out and holidays? Completely unrealistic!

    Why would you stick your handbag on your shoulder? (page 48). That’s not what you do with your handbag. That would be uncomfortable and risky. You might put the strap of your shoulder bag over your shoulder though!

    The glass shards from the broken photo frames would have been a better way to commit suicide. A rusty nail left exposed? Unrealistic that such a thing would have existed in  such a carefully designed and moneyed household.

    Where was Mrs Traynor when the photos were smashed. Lou had made the guests Lissa and Rupert coffee and Mrs Traynor some tea. So she was still in the house and must have heard the noise of breaking glass.

    The author is obsessed with blinking. It’s usually an involuntary reflex action that we perform millions of times a day. Does she mean someone closing their eyes slowly; deliberately? That’s not the same as blinking. Or winking for that matter!

    Will goes for his 6 month check-up and the Consultant says at the end “So we’ll see you in 3 months time Mr Traynor”.

    Why is Lou wearing ballet pumps in snowy weather? Ridiculous!

    Nathan tells Lou (on page 131) that the sister, Georgina, had left, skidding off in her car just as he arrived yet there she is again in the house on  the next page (page 132) sobbing down the annexe corridor. No mention of her returning to the house. Plot error?

    What is that position Lou gets into lying sideways on her bed with her legs against the wall. Is that even possible? And why?

    Page 175 when the two sisters are arguing “If you think I’m helping you now … you’ve got another thing coming”.

    The calendar is laminated? I’ve not seen a laminated calendar I don’t think. That must be difficult to write on.

    Which day is Lou thinking about when they’re at the concert and she says “I remembered how his former workmates had looked at him that day”? There’d been no meeting of his workmates together with Lou and Will  mentioned previously.

    Lou seems to rub her nose a lot. Then later says she rubs it when she lies. Was she lying when she said she enjoyed the classical music concert then? That doesn’t make sense and is an irrelevant detail unless it is bring used as a plot device to show she’s lying. And she doesn’t seem to be lying about enjoying the concert. So why bother to put that detail in?

    At her birthday meal why is Lou folding smoked salmon in her fingers and feeding Will like that. No fork? It comes up again and again the finger food feeding. Breaking off pieces of sandwich etc. Like feeding a  child or a dog its treats. It’s unhygienic and undermines Will as a human being. He’s not a child or a dog.

    On page 266 Lou has peeled potatoes and is then “rinsing the chopping board under the sink”. Really? Where the bins and cleaning products are kept? Perhaps the author meant under the tap at the sink? Or in the sink perhaps?

    Will should have had 24 hour live-in care. His parents, Nathan and Louise are not there all the time. Is that legal to leave a disabled person un-attended? What if a fire broke out? Shouldn’t his parents, as prime carers, be sued for negligence for not providing their disabled son with the 24 hour care he needs?

    Mr Traynor’s situation is unrealistic. He leaves his son unattended when he goes out to see his mistress. He goes to see his mistress when Mrs Traynor goes away for the night to see her sister, or stays in London due to weather, or work, situations.

    Will may have been in the house/annexe alone a lot of the time as both parents, nor carers stayed in the house overnight consistently. Will would have been alone and unattended the night it snowed but luckily Lou stayed overnight. What about all the other times when both parents (maybe unknowingly) left him alone at night?

    So Mr Traynor could have left his wife at any time. He was never consistently there.There was no need for him to wait for Will to die in order for him to be free of his marriage. He was never really around or much use looking after Will anyway so his excuse that he was needed whilst Will was still alive is nonsense.

    Finally the scene at Dignitas. “… Mr Traynor sat on one side if it, (the bed) Mrs Traynor on the other … Georgina was seated on a wooden chair in the corner….” Will says ‘I want to talk to Lou.Is that ok?” Mrs Traynor and Georgina leave the room. THAT LEAVES MR TRAYNOR STILL IN THE ROOM WITH WILL AND LOU!! Didn’t any of them notice he was still there? Will he be there with them in the film? Utter rubbish. Unbelievable that this wasn’t picked up in the editing.

    So how has this book managed to get published with all these mistakes? And turned into a film as well?  It is an insult to the readers’ intelligence. But if people want sentimental, unrealistic situations and charscters, romantic claptrap,Chick-lit and drivel then here it is. With sequels too! I must get writing. Perhaps I can churn out a sentimental pot-boiler or two? Watch this space!

  30. Ok, @unsentimental… have you never given someone a hug goodbye while they lie down??? Your face equals face, head, nape, neck… there is nothing wrong with that. I feel like your picking st things only because you do not agree with Will committing scuicide. But that was the LAST AND ONLY CHOISE HE GOT TO MAKE. Right, wrong, or some fucked your gray area. ILOVE THAT IT WAS AN unhappy happy ending. So is life. To compare this to 50 Shades is unfair!! That booked really sucked I couldn’t even get half way through.

    1. Sorry Stella, Will never made any choices. He is a ridiculous cartoon. The author, for grotesque reasons of her own, made that stupid choice for Will, and by extension, for all the rest of us.

      hint: We resent that immensely.

      Feel the Love

      Gordon freom Montreal

    2. You are 100% correct, Stella.
      The main character being named Will is no accident. He lost his will to live and was going to exercise his free will by choosing to die.
      That’s lost on most of the people out here, especially the owner of this blog, Shane Clifton. Best to let them revel in their contempt, because, at the end of the day, that’s all they have.

      1. Michaela, I don’t know whether to laugh at you or be angry. You suggest that I revel in my contempt (a nice turn of phrase, by the way), but you have failed to even listen to what has been said on this blog. You seem to think it utterly unimportant that you are writing to people whose experience of severe disability gives them the right to criticise Jojo Moyes (not Will, who is a fictional character). I am certainly happy for people to disagree with me – and I’ve never prevented you commenting on my blog. But until you have had a spinal cord injury, you don’t have the right to label people who have lived with the injury contemptuous. Our point is, that neither you nor Jojo Moyes know anything about spinal cord injury. So the contempt is all yours.

      2. Shane Clifton you know nothing about me. I don’t have a spinal cord injury, but I had a brother who did, key words being had and did. He is no longer here, because he made the same choice Will did, and my brother was para not quad. He had full function of his upper body, but it didn’t matter. He didn’t want to live in that condition. He didn’t care about what others thought, least of all his family. We supported him with all we had. He was provided with great resources to learn how to live life again, but it didn’t matter. He found no inspiration from other paras living and thriving with the condition. It’s not how he wanted to live. When someone loses the will to live, they won’t. And there’s nothing…nothing…you can do to change their mind. Him being para allowed him to end his life without anyone’s help, or knowledge for that matter (his widow found him.) The first lines of his suicide note acknowledged the many many people living as a para, but he didn’t want to be one of them. It taught me to never put people with disabilities in a group. How one disabled person feels is not necessarily how another with the same disability feels. I’m thankful I’ve learned to individualize it like that. Maybe that’s why I love MBY so much: Will’s choice gives me perspective about my brother’s. Maybe it gives me peace too. It’s been 20 years, and, to this day, I miss him terribly.

        I thank you for allowing me to comment on your blog, despite us disagreeing over this. I didn’t want to bring my personal stuff here, but I can see how my last comment about contempt was inflammatory. I don’t believe Moyes was making a statement the quads are better off dead. There is a portion of the disabled population that loses the will to live because of their disability. Frankly, I think that’s what you really hate. In telling a story, Moyes, unwittingly, gave them a voice. And they deserve to be heard just as much as you and people that feel like you do.

  31. “Best to let them revel in their contempt, because, at the end of the day, that’s all they have.”

    Considering the people this comment is obliquely directed at, your arrogance is astounding.

    Once again there is no Will. Will is a vehicle for propagating the prejudice of the author. The author holds physically diminished life in contempt, as your snide comment above indicates you do also.

    (But you do realize that the physical diminishes as you go forward right ? For everybody ? So why not just quit while you are ahead ? Best avoid the off chance that you might undergo some sort of “suffering”, don’t you think ? heh, heh)

    Evolution will speak. Those of little grit will disappear from the gene pool and from the market of ideas and debate. Fine. Ee will be done with their whining.

    But we do want to protect those, the vast majority, who choose to live — whether that be for thirty years, one year, one day, or just one more hour.

    Feel the Love

    Gordon from Montreal

  32. My wife wanted to watch this film so we sat down together. About half way in I was so bored I picked up some book to read while my wife kept her focus on the film. It’s just a waste of time IMO as that kind of ending sort of imply all the protagonist did was for nothing, which means everything the film made us spend time watching was useless and meaningless. It irritated me so much and that disable guy, like some other review mentioned, did not inspire me at all. No sympathy. None.

    I’ve always imagine myself becoming disable ever since I read the Manga about wheel chair basketball “Real”. It’s a really good read and I highly recommend it to everyone. In my mind I wouldn’t waste my time moping around. There’s so much to do, so much to train, and I have a daughter to take care of.

    Screw You before Me as a film.

  33. My wife wanted to watch this film so we sat down together. About half way in I was so bored I picked up some book to read while my wife kept her focus on the film. It’s just a waste of time IMO as that kind of ending sort of imply all the protagonist did was for nothing, which means everything the film made us spend time watching was useless and meaningless. It irritated me so much and that disable guy, like some other review mentioned, did not inspire me at all. No sympathy. None.

    I’ve always imagine myself becoming disable ever since I read the Manga about wheel chair basketball “Real”. It’s a really good read and I highly recommend it to everyone. In my mind I wouldn’t waste my time moping around. There’s so much to do, so much to train, and I have a daughter to take care of.

    Screw You before Me as a film.

  34. I am so glad I found this blog and my thoughts exactly. I just watched the movie and I was so incredibly disappointed. Like what you have stated in your blog I felt like he was some petty boy that couldn’t cope with the fact that life changes … shit happens but you still push forward he had someone who LOVED him and wanted to be with him and experience life with him. I could go on but you stated my thoughts exactly

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