It has been at least a month since I finished this book, and I continue to sit staring at my screen with my bottom lip sticking out (the one my mom said that a birdie was going to poop on when I was little). I've moved the date of the review back three times. I'm half tempted to just tell you to read it and spare you my histrionics but that just wouldn't be right. This book needs love. Lots of it. And tissues and a few low doses of Prozac.
Synopsis: Louisa Clark would probably classify herself as a normal (if not a bit dull) 26 year old...lives at home with her mother, father and unmarried sister and kid. Steady, long-term boyfriend. No specific career aspirations. If she were honest, she couldn't say she was all that happy. She has never had the courage to live large, or even leave her small village. She does tend to always be the one to give in, and to let others take advantage of her docile nature, and they all do, even the ones that claim to love her.
Until she loses her job at a cafe, and in financial desperation, takes a position as an assistant to a quadriplegic. Then her life is turned upside-down. Her new employer, Will Traynor, was once a handsome, virile athlete, a successful businessman, destined to marry a beautiful society girl. Now he is wheelchair-bound after a terrible accident, and is struggling mentally and physically with this drastic change at the young age of 35. He is surly and sarcastic, but over time, Louisa's quirky innocence and earnestness draws Will out and they develop a close friendship. It suddenly becomes more important than ever that Louisa make it her primary mission to give Will a reason to live and to love his life with her.
Deemed "A Love Story" for this generation, prepare yourself for more than just an unlikely and endearing romance, but also an unflinching look at what it is like to live disabled, and how to find the courage to pursue happiness when one's life has been derailed.
My thoughts: In a word, this book is perfect. I don't know how else to describe it. It was a blend of everything you want in a novel. Love, self-discovery, humor, friendship, family, heartbreak. Tears (like...ruination of makeup, so just take heed). Flipping the bird to the gossipers and naysayers. That kind of thing.
I instantly felt for Louisa. She was a typical underachiever that let everyone push her around, but behind her complacency, she had heart and talent. Will brings that out in her and he nurtures it, while the rest of Louisa's world worries about themselves. I really warmed up to Will too. In some ways his was a stereotypical character...the angry, difficult shut-in, trying to drive everyone away but with a soft side that will be exposed by the right person. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out what is going to happen here right? But it is so fun to watch.
There were moments of humor throughout the book, because Louisa is a little bit of a bumbler. But a sweet one.
There were life lessons here too, and on occasion I wondered if they were going to grow into something overbearing and lecture-ish but they never did. There are messages in the story, but ones that should be heeded. I'm not going to tell you what they are, because I've said enough. At this point, just put it on your list and read it. That is all.
A few words about the audio production: Our primary narrator was Susan Lyons, who was the voice of Louisa. There were several other voices as well, who occasionally popped in to give a point of view from Will's mother, Will's nurse, Louisa's sister, etc. I can't say that the random points of view and their separate narrators did anything to enhance the story (it actually had me scratching my head), but Susan, a new voice for me, did a wonderful job.
Audiobook length: 14 hours and 40 minutes (384 pages)
5 out of 5 stars