Book Club: ‘Brooklyn’ and ‘Me Before You’

 

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^^ Dreams. ^^

In the past month, I’ve started six different books and only until recently, had the decency to start finishing them. It’s like I have no literary manners at all. One book was a hardback I didn’t want to haul around on the train, another just kept whispering in my ear to start it before I finished anything else, and finally I started reading for my first book club. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am now the proud member of the GenText book club with all the sweet souls I facilitated in my GenSex workshop last year. I can’t take credit for the name although I’m pretty obsessed with it. And finally being in a book club. I feel like 58-year-old Carly is smiling down on me right now.

But back to the books. I’ve made a pact with myself that I will finish the 50+ unread books in my Brooklyn bedroom by April 2017 (this isn’t counting any of the ones in LA). A lofty goal, yes, but I can’t keep starring at my unread books and know I’ve let them down. I love to read which also means I also love to buy books. And while I don’t doubt my floor will soon collapse from the weight of my bookshelves, I know I can’t just keep buying books by the truck load and factoring in time to read them. I mean my Amazon wishlist is five pages deep of just books so I think this should give us a clear picture of the kind of person we’re dealing with here.

 

But novels I have had the pleasure of spending time with:

“Me Before You” by JoJo Moyes. You know those books that make you want to abandon all responsibilities and just sit and read until they’re done? This is that kind of book. On the train to D.C., with my parents sitting in front of me and the wifi down in our car so I couldn’t curate, I instead got to read and read and read to my heart’s content.

This novel could have quickly taken a turn towards Nicholas Sparks’ land but proved itself to be one of the most beautifully tragic romances I’ve ever read. It has a way of pulling you close and holding you tight.

The novel follows Louisa Clark – a girl content with her tiny, predictable life in her tiny English town. Or so she thinks. After losing her job at a coffee shop, Louisa takes a job as a caregiver to Will, a former investment banker paralyzed after being hit by a bike in the rain. Will is snarky about Louisa’s crazy clothes, her endless chatter and enthusiasm. But as time moves forward and the two are on the cusp of friendship (romantic friendship), Louisa realizes why she’s actually been hired and despite her care for Will, has to decide if she’s comfortable being fully responsible for saving someone’s life.

Their love story is complicated by Lou’s uninvolved boyfriend, the right to live, multi-dimensional characters, trauma as a survivor of sexual assault, the pressures to support your family, and the fear of diving into the unknown. I adored this book and the chemistry of Will and Lou. I think the New York Times review says it best, “When I finished this novel, I didn’t want to review it: I wanted to reread it. . . . an affair to remember.” Prepare to cry but also be inspired to really live life. As Will writes, “You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it.”

See the movie trailer here before it comes out in June.

***

Second on my list is “Brooklyn” — also a novel turned movie. The book follows Eilis Lacey, a young Irish girl who moves to America to pursue work and opportunities her small Irish town could never offer. At first desperately homesick, Eilis enrolls in night classes and her Brooklyn life before meeting Tony, a Brooklyn native and Italian plumber who slowly wins her heart. But just as she finds her American footing, Eilis must return to Ireland following a family tragedy and in turn, sees what her life would be if she had stayed.

More than half of the novel is focused solely on Eilis’ personal growth and her adjustment in America which as a reader, was a bit hard to stay enthusiastic about. The story begins to pick up when she interacts with others, especially in her triangle between Tony and Jim – a boy she meets upon her return to Ireland. But I think it was the ending that didn’t sit well with me. As a reader, we follow Eilis’ journey from wall flower to independent adult. We root for her finding her own life and celebrate her accomplishment when she finally does. But in the end, her final decision between Tony and Jim feels like it’s made out of a panic instead of her own desire to be with one or the other. The book wasn’t my favorite and might be one of the few instances when the movie might be better than the book.

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One thought on “Book Club: ‘Brooklyn’ and ‘Me Before You’

  1. Pingback: Book Club: 5 Books, 1 Review | The Curious Case of Carly Christine

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