This past Tuesday night we had our January meeting for the Los Gatos Library Book Club. Our book was Me Before You, by JoJo Moyes, which I'm sure many of you have read (and if you haven't, make sure you do!). We had an extremely lively discussion. As usual, Melissa Maglio, our fearless leader, did a recap. And they're always interesting. But based on our heated debate, this is a recap I want you to read.
Recap of Me Before You
It was a small group last night but boy did we have a lot of fun talking about this book. There was a small amount of disagreement between members which made things interesting. I have to admit that I was one of the various members who were vocal in disagreeing. In the novel, one of the two main characters, Will, has chosen, after being in an accident and becoming a quadriplegic, that he is going to end his life. His failed attempts cause his parents to bring in a caregiver to keep eye over him. The longest discussion last night was whether it was okay for Will to choose euthanasia. I was on the side that felt that euthanasia shouldn't have been legal and that it gave Will an easier out than he should have had. The other side of the argument was that no one should have to live their life in poor quality. Will had even more of a reason to favor euthanasia because, along with his physical pains, he had the mental knowledge of knowing just how good life had been for him before his accident. Pain was coming at him from all areas of his life.
Although the author did not throw anything spiritual into the mix, except for maybe constant reference to the way Will’s mom would play with the cross on her necklace, I would argue that not only does euthanasia make it easy to give up but it doesn’t allow us to consider that maybe, our paths in this life are exactly what they are supposed to be. Perhaps we are meant to deal with terrible things, some of us more than others. From a logical, humanistic stand point, no one should have to live their life in pain and despair. Euthanasia is humane and a persons’ right to choose should be honored. I don’t think any characters in the book felt Will’s choice was the correct one. His dad might have been the closest to this reality but his view was tainted by his own desire to leave his wife for his mistress once Will was not a matter of contention and scandal.
I argued that choosing to die, especially in relation to this story, is a selfish act. Will knew that Louisa loved him, and he loved her. However, even that fact did nothing to change his mind. He chose to give up, even knowing it would hurt her deeply to lose him. Here again was another point of disagreement as someone pointed out that it actually wasn’t selfish to end his life. He wouldn’t be putting Louisa in a lifetime of servitude to help him, care for him, and wait on him. But, I would argue back that Louisa came to love him at a time when this was exactly what she was doing for him. If you can fall in love with someone that you constantly have to take care of, why would you think this would impact your love or make you miserable long term? Besides, breaks in routine can be made and vacations every now and then can help tremendously. Will and his family certainly have the money to make things happen. Perhaps Will should have waited a little longer once his relationship with Louisa was established.
Overall, my opinion is such that, happiness is about your state of mind and we all have a choice on how we view our life. We can and should address the negativity around us but we should strive to train ourselves to continue to focus on the positives. Bad things happen. Pain and sickness come around. Some are asked to deal with way more than others in this life. Death is a given for all of us, but why not continue to honor the life that we have been given instead of giving up? Some argue that you just don’t know until you are in the situation. Very good point! I truly loved discussing this book last night as the arguments for and against the main topic were fantastic. We have a great discussion group with members that have fantastic and respectful views and opinions. I hope that if you missed last night’s meeting you will find your way back to us in February. If you are thinking of joining us for the first time, just know that all are welcome.