Lou is a young woman whose never left her hometown, never done anything remarkable. She's too scared, for reasons I won't reveal in this review. She lives with her parents, has a spoiled rotten sister, a boyfriend so wrapped up in marathon training he never really gives her the time of day. When she loses her little cafe job, she has to find something fast, because the whole darned household is dependent on her. And this leads her to Will.
Will had, at one time, a bright future. He ran his own company, sky dived, traveled the world, was a force to be reckoned with. Now he is confined to a wheelchair with only the use of his neck, mouth, and a few fingers. He's pumped full of meds with a little bag of urine for his waste. He is a breathing, talking vegetable. And he is miserable.
Lou enters his life like a whirlwind, but Will wants to die.
But people love him. Lou comes to love him. His mother loves him. They don't want him to die. Who is being selfish here? Would they want to live like him? Is he the selfish one for wanting to leave? Basically, Lou has six months to change his mind, to make him see he has reasons to live, but there's a fine line between convincing and just making someone else's decisions for him. She doesn't like when he tries to tell her what to do, so where does she get off doing it for him?
It becomes an obsession for her, her haste to "fill those little white rectangles (calendar) with a lifetime of things that could generate happiness, contentment, satisfaction, or pleasure. I would have to fill them up with every good experience I could summon up for a man whose powerless arms and legs meant he could no longer make them happen by himself."
But at the same time, he in a way, guides HER. Two of the most unlikely people...from two very different walks of life understand each other. Just who is saving who?
She can change his mind or she can give him the best six months of his life. This story is proof...that love is about personality: not physical attraction, not sex, not money. Love can happen to anyone, able bodied, quad, blind...
There is no happy ending for a person paralyzed from the neck down, but even so, I cried my heart out. I cried at many parts of this novel, just realizing how a quad lives their life, the little struggles they face that the able-bodied take for granted: parking, smoothness of paths, so many things.
My only quibble is at times the heroine got on my nerves, mostly at her home. Her dad basically called her stupid half the time, her sister was a snarky wench for whom it was okay for her mooch and run off and get educated, but Lou had to stick around and support the entire family with no thanks hardly at all. I mean the stupid sister didn't even want to part with the larger room. The home life was terrible and I'd have liked to see Lou stick up for herself to them.
Regardless, best book I've ever read. It will forever be with me. Very touchy/controversial subject, but the moral is clear: everyone should have a choice. It skillfully shows both sides of the assisted suicide issue: from those who love the person and from those who are living the pain.
Five bikes. I received this on Edelweiss.