I watched the movie first and then I really wanted to read the book so I bought it on Thrift Books. Out of all of the book-to-movie adaptations that I have seen, this one was definitely the closest to the book. There were a few things left out, like more details about Louisa and Patrick’s relationship, Lou and her sister arguing about who should have the bigger room, the fact that Will has a sister, and some things like that, but scene wise, not really much was cut out. I was really surprised at how true to the book it was.
This book follows Louisa Clark as she works for the Traynor family as a caregiver for their son, Will, who was paralyzed from the neck down.
While working one day, Lou overhears Mr. and Mrs. Traynor talking about if they think Will will change his mind about wanting to go through with medically assisted suicide (a controversial issue) and how they basically hired Lou to try and change his mind about it. Lou comes up with a plan to do different activities and to go to different events to show Will what he would be missing if he did die and to show him that he doesn’t have to be limited by his wheelchair. Will and Louisa fall in love, but she doesn’t help him change his mind. His reasoning behind wanting to kill himself is that he wants to do the things that he used to do and have pictures of it, but he doesn’t want to see himself in his wheelchair. He wants to be able to move around and be able to do the things that he used to do. At first, Louisa doesn’t go with him to the facility but then she changes her mind (much to the disappointment of her mother, but with the support of her father and sister) and goes there to be with him. There’s a sequel to this one called After You about Louisa adjusting to life without Will which is on my to read list.
What I love about this book is that it goes through what it’s like to have a friend or a family member who wants to die because of an accident that happened to them and changed them in some way. It shows us what their thinking could be for wanting to go through with that and it also shows that even if you’ve been disabled and don’t like your life anymore, you can still get over that and have adventures. Even though he had fun with Lou on all of their outings and adventures, Will mainly just watched Louisa do all of the things that he wanted to do. There’s this one point where, as a last attempt at changing his mind, Louisa takes Will on a vacation to a beach. He convinces her to try scuba-diving and he’s watching on the boat while she’s in the water exploring and having fun. Even though it’s never stated, you just know that he wanted to be out there with her and having fun also. So even if he were to change his mind, there are many things that he would have to sit on the sidelines for and not actually be able to enjoy it as much.
While this book does deal with a very controversial issue, it does it in a way that you can understand his reasoning for it. Plus it also shows that not all who have been paralyzed want to die. There is a part in the book when Louisa is getting ideas of activities to do with Will where she goes onto a chat room/board for para/quadriplegics and those who take care of them. A lot of the people on that board had had similar feelings to what Will was experiencing, but they were able to find something that helped them get through it. So while there may be some para/quadriplegics that don’t want to live with being paralyzed, there are those who are able to come to terms with it and live life with a wheelchair or whatever they may be in.
All in all, I definitely recommend this book and the movie. It’s very emotional and it’s definitely a good read.