I must admit I dreaded reading the book after being told with teary eyes that this specific novel will leave me in pieces and crying before the end. I have cried when reading books before, mostly during the rape scene in Blindness and when Pi was going hungry in Life of Pi and when the Wolf was revealed in The Blind Assassin. But on this one, I pulled my tears back, placed them behind a wall and promised myself I would not join the weak-hearted. I would read and analyze this book as an objective critic. I would not cry.
Today, when I put down the last chapter, I was hiccuping and crying with massive tears. I lost.
This is the story of a girl who finds employment as a carer for a quadraplegic with limited options of movement – mostly head and shoulders and a bit of the right arm. It’s a story of love untold and love shared, of love lost and love stolen. Heartbreak everywhere – from the sibling rivalry and desire to fit in to knowing when it’s time to move on and dump your super-fit ex.
“You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”
The message of the book stuck with me. Leave your little town and push your boundaries. Do what you haven’t done before. Go out and experience things. Don’t jump off of buildings but make something of yourself. Do not pass away your days watching telly and sitting on the sofa. Go out and live your life as other people may not be that lucky.
Don’t squander the precious gift given to you.
Hey Clark’, he said.’Tell me something good’. I stared out of the window at the bright-blue Swiss sky and I told him a story of two people. Two people who shouldn’t have met, and who didn’t like each other much when they did, but who found they were the only two people in the world who could possibly have understood each other. And I told him of the adventures they had, the places they had gone, and the things I had seen that I had never expected to. I conjured for him electric skies and iridescent seas and evenings full of laughter and silly jokes. I drew a world for him, a world far from a Swiss industrial estate, a world in which he was still somehow the person he had wanted to be. I drew the world he had created for me, full of wonder and possibility
I loved Will. Stuck in his wheelchair, the object of others to plan and move, no capability of his own. Desire to do but no way to do it. No future. Loving life but destined not to be able to enjoy it. It broke my heart when the two went to a concert and he did not want to go back inside as the magic of him being a man and she being a woman with a man would end. He would have to face reality again.
Lou was his polar opposite. Cheerful and full of life, always the little one in the family even though she was the oldest. Her moving to the big room from the cupboard was an achievement to be discussed in detail! Her calendar of things to do to cheer up Will left me rooting for her.
In the end it’s his decision. He has 6 months to decide whether he still wants to commit suicide. She has 6 months to convince him otherwise.
“I placed my face so close to his that his features became indistict, and I began to lose myself in them. I stroked his hair, his skin, his brow, with my fingertips, tears sliding unchecked down my cheeks, my nose against his, and all the time he watched me silently, studying me intently as if he were storing each molecule of me away. He was already retreating withdrawing to somewhere I couldn’t reach him.
I kissed him, trying to bring him back. I kissed him and let my lips rest against his so that our breath mingled and the tears from my eyes became salt on his skin, and I told myself that, somewhere, tiny particles of him would become tiny particles of me, ingested, swallowed, alive perpetual. I wanted to press every bit of me against him. I wanted to will something into him. I wanted to give him every bit of life I felt and force him to life.
I held him, Will Traynor ex-City whiz kid, ex-stunt diver, sportsman, traveller, lover. I held him close and said nothing, all the while telling him silently that he was loved. Oh, but he was loved.”