Thursday, March 7, 2013

Something Good

I'm going to tell you something good. ME BEFORE YOU, an unconventional love story about a quadriplegic and his caregiver, is life-affirming rather than depressing. At its end, you won't be thinking about updating your will; you'll be adding adventures to your bucket list.  

Louisa Clark is content with her small life: a waitress job at the Buttered Bun, a boyfriend who's more interested in training for a marathon than spending time with her, and parents who put her younger sister first.

Will Traynor is a business mogul who enjoys extreme sports, far-flung travel, and his pick of beautiful women. He lives large until a motorcyclist runs him down, leaving a man who once scaled Kilimanjaro unable to feed himself.

The Buttered Bun closes its doors and puts Lou out of work. When she's hired to be Will's "carer" and work alongside his medical assistant for six months, she's squeamish, but the pay's too good to refuse. After all, she and her Dad are the family's chief wage-earners, and his job could disappear at any moment. 

Will's bitter and sarcastic. Lou, a people-person, is talkative and says what she thinks, at least to him.

When Lou realizes Will has given up on life, she devises outings and activities to entertain him. Will, in turn, plays Pygmalion and browbeats her into an interest in books and music. 

Although each tries to change the other in some way, Will appreciates Lou's quirkiness, and she gets his humor. He's the one who helps her come to terms with a long-ago event that cost her her fearlessness. She helps him face the wedding of the woman he loved. 

But Lou's contract is set to expire at the end of six months for a reason, and that reason will test her and her newfound fearlessness. She'll have to decide what she can and can't do for love.

If tough work weeks make you crave escapist reads, know I understand. Right now, though, I am nurturing joy (the best escape!) for the bigger life that awaits Lou. By the book's end, I believe you will, too.


Jennette Marie Powell said...

This sounds really good! Thanks for sharing it!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Jennette,
A friend (I'm looking at you, Pat Kay.) suggested I read the book weeks ago, and I put it off because, like Lou. I felt squeamish about Will's situation. My reluctance was misplaced,

The story's told mostly from Lou's POV, and she's a delight. What's more, the author does a terrific job of showing rather than telling Lou's family's lovingly dismissive attitude toward her.

I could go on, but I'll shut up now except to say I hope you like the book as much as I do.

Anonymous said...

Dear Patricia O'Dea Rosen,

There was a review of Katherine Bouton's book: The Sound of Silence, Shouting Won't Help" in the book review section of the New York Times on Sunday. You might find the book interesting.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Thanks, Anonymous, for the recommendation of Katherine Bouton's book. I know the bit about a possible link between hearing loss and dementia is just a small part of the book, and I'm interested in her take on the many aspects of hearing loss. You and I are part of the same tribe, and I'm interested in the experiences and impressions of others who share our challenge.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mrs. Patricia O'Dea Rosen:

Yes, I will read the book too. I think the relationship between hearing loss (which struck me at the tender age of 26) and dementia is that we tend to withdraw from social interaction with others which can cause us not to exercise our mental and speech skills.

Even now (I teach at a University)I have no trouble hearing my students - my trouble is discriminating what they are saying and understanding them.

Sometimes I am the object of ridicule which I just ignore.

Only sign my name as "Anonymous" because I've never replied to a blog before (I hit yours because of your writing about cochlear implants).

My name is Patrick. Best of luck to you with your hearing challenges!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Patrick,
When I taught, I told my students about my hearing loss. I was fortunate to teach immigrant adults, and the way I phrased it was that we all had communication issues and would cope together. It bothers me that you've encountered ridicule, and, on your behalf, I'd happily give your students what for.

Like you, I think isolation is a factor in dementia, but I'd like to get my hands on the survey questions that formed the basis of the Johns Hopkins research Bouton refers to in a chapter of her book. The questions may have inadvertently tripped up people with hearing loss. For example, if I had to answer the question, "Are you ever confused when someone is giving you driving directions?" I'd say yes, not because there's anything wrong with my thinking skills, but because I don't always catch street names and "two blocks" might sound like "ten blocks."

Maybe I'll do a blog post on Bouton's book after I've read it. Meanwhile. best of luck with your hearing challenges. (And let me know if you want me to lay a guilt trip on your students.)

Coleen Patrick said...

Just put it on hold at the library! Thanks for the recommendation,sounds great.
Hope you have an awesome week, Pat. :)

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Same to you, Coleen! Oh, and I hope you like the book as much as I did.

Lark Howard said...

Sounds like a very compelling story, Pat. Thanks for the introduction. I'll put this one on my TBR list for sure!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Lark, you're going to love Lou.