There's more to this post than JUST the review, but the content ties into why I enjoyed the book. The story itself was sweet and simple, if a bit predictable. I found Treena and Pat, particularly, really irritating and self-centered. Lou was decent but cliché. Will was depressing, but I don't mind a depressing character here and there. I loved the very British humor demonstrated Lou's family, as it helped set the darker tone for the book without making it dark. What I really loved was the thought-provoking questions it brought up for readers, which kept it from being an average 3-star read for me.
One of the major questions that this book brings up is at what point does a person whose condition is terminal get to say "no, I cannot keep living like this?" Should we be allowing more people who are able to make coherent decisions decide the conditions under which they want to die? Lou struggles with this question throughout the book, and while she thinks she is firmly against it, in the end she starts to see just how much Will is suffering as a result of other people's determination to dictate to him what he needs in life.
I think this is a major moral issue and I can understand where those on each side are coming from, including those in the novel. On one hand, you've got those firmly against it. They love Will, they want him to live because they know that even if he only lives five or ten more years, he'll be surrounded by people who love him and want to help him, even if they don't always understand the best way to do so.
On the other hand, there are those who do think that Will (to keep this post from straying away from the topic at hand, which is supposed to be a review of this book) should have the choice of when to end his life. He's miserable in his chair and feels like an alien in his own skin following the accident. People are constantly trying to tell him what he wants to do without stopping to think that he's capable of making those decisions still. Nathan, possibly my favorite character in the book, is one of few people who truly gets it: why should Will be forced to live a life he feels so separated from?
While the case can be made that Will is too depressed to really see the opportunities in front of him, it's made clear that the depression came after he worked incredibly hard to improve following the accident. He did everything he could and tried to will into being his ability to recover fully, but his injuries were simply too great.
Bodily autonomy is a HUGE thing nowadays, and honestly I think that's something that comes up indirectly in this book. Kudos to Jojo Moyes for bringing it up. Ultimately, we get to decide what happens to our bodies, or that's how it should be. Scientists can't even take organs from a corpse unless the person gave permission while sound-of-mind. For me, this is (not-so-)simply another issue of bodily autonomy. For those with terminal illnesses, those who know with a very high degree of certainty that their condition will result in their death, I think the most loving thing to do would be to let them pick. Counsel and guide them, certainly, and feel free to try to do as Lou did and show them the possibilities in life if they choose to stay with you, but the pain and suffering they're going through must also be taken into consideration. After all, the disabled, the chronically ill, and the terminally ill are every bit as human as the rest of us.
You are more than welcome to voice your disagreement or agreement in the comments if you wish. I welcome and enjoy a good discussion on difficult issues such as this.