In his beautiful and inspiring "Never Give Up" speech, Jim Valvano said there were three things you should do every day: you should laugh, you should think, and you should have your emotions moved to tears. He said, "If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day." (If you have never heard the speech, please do yourself a favor and click on the link. Watch the video. Jimmy V was an amazing speaker. That speech motivates and inspires me often.)
Laugh. Think. Cry. I definitely do the first two every day, but I actually try to avoid the third. I'm not a pretty cryer.
Anyway, I read a book recently that made me do all three of these actions, and I thought I'd tell you about it. The book is Me Before You by British author Jojo Moyes. The book was a Reader's Choice selection at the library recently and though I was a little put off by the subject, I decided to give it a shot anyway. Mainly the reason I was put off is because I knew that I would probably cry.
Sometimes my mom will ask me why I read a book when I know that I will cry. I suppose it's because some things are worth the tears and sadness is as much a part of life as anything. This book was worth the tears because you also get to laugh and to think while you're at it.
Me Before You is the story of a lady named Luisa who became abruptly unemployed when the owner of the cafe where she worked decided to close up shop and move home to Australia. Luisa's family: her mother and father, her semi-invalid grandfather, her sister and her nephew, counted on Luisa's income to support the clan. Luisa winds up interviewing for a job as a caretaker for a quadriplegic man. Her job isn't so much medical care as mental care. The quad, Will, was a vibrant young man who had lived a "big life" before being hit by a motorcycle while he was crossing the road. Will no longer wanted to live. Luisa's job was to keep him happy and alive.
What ensues is two people who don't get along so much at first, but then find themselves becoming friends. When Luisa finds out about Will's desire to end his life, it becomes her mission to show him that life is worth living, even though he is confined to a wheelchair with no hope of ever leaving it.
I gobbled up this book like it was sweet potato casserole. I read it in three days and I haven't stopped thinking about it since I finished it. Both Will and Lou are pretty great characters. Their banter and the things they do...it felt natural and right.
I read most of the story while I was in Idaho over the Thanksgiving weekend. I was sitting on the couch next to my father-in-law when I reached a critical and emotional part of the book. I didn't want to get all weepy and sloppy sitting there next to Jake, so I had to flee to the bedroom where there was a box of tissues and some privacy.
When you are looking for the next book to read, I highly recommend Me Before You. Yes, you will cry, but you will also think and laugh. Not only does that make for a heck of a day, but it makes for a heck of a book, as well.
PS: I'm going to be sure to find some more of Moyes' books at the library!