Louisa Clark is an average girl who has a steady boyfriend, slightly eccentric family, and a job she loves in a local cafe. She has never ventured much further than her own village and is content to keep her life simple. This changes when she the cafe she works in closes down and she is forced to look for a new job during a recession where her skills and education don’t open many doors. She eventually secures a job working for Will Traynor, a former hedonistic high fligher who is confined to a wheelchair following a freak accident. Louisa’s happy-go-lucky personality clashes with Will’s moodiness and negativity, and she has to work hard to try to break down his barriers. When she learns that Will has a shocking plan to escape his current position, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.
The story is very much about Will and Louisa, with less emphasis on the supporting characters around them, but the supporting characters are believable and I could empathise with each of their stories and viewpoints. The character of Louisa is initially fairly typical of the usual lead female character of a chick-lit novel, but as the book progresses you learn more about her back story and the reasons why she is so sheltered, and these revelations are realistic and truly heartbreaking. Despite the cover and first few chapters of this book suggesting an easy, chick-lit read, nothing could be further from the truth.
The issues that Jojo Moyes raises in the book are contemporary and controversial and she does well to handle them so sensitively and respectfully. She has clearly done her research and taken seriously the responsibility of fictionalising such emotive scenarios. This certainly isn’t your average love story, and it made me cry while reading it, although it does have moments of humour to break up the sadness. It is thought-provoking, and the story stayed with me for a long time after I finished reading it. It would make a great movie if the subject matter could be handled as well as Moyes did in the book. But of course read the book first! I recommend this book to anyone.
The Literary Owl rating: 8/10
Read with: an open mind, and at least a couple of tissues for your tears!