THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Addition: Netgalley review e-book
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane. Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that. What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

This is the first JoJo Moyles novel I have read and I really enjoyed it. I will certainly be reading more by her. This book may be classified elsewhere as chick-lit, but I really felt reading it that this is just good fiction. Yes there are elements of romance but this book is a lot more than that:

The story follows Lou Clark as she searches for her identity. She has always been reliable Lou who works at the cafe until the day she loses her job. In her pursuit of a new job, she becomes Will’s companion. Will felt like he lost his life in his motorbike accident. He will never fully recover and live the life he led before. Lou’s role seems simple: keep him company. However, she soon realises her role is much more than that. Will had made a bargain with his Mum – he would give her 6 more months and then he wanted her help to die. Lou is determined to give him a reason to live and from that she finds her new identity as she faces fears and challenges she has never had to deal with before.

I really enjoyed this book. I found I couldn’t put it down as I was sucked into the story. I immediately liked Lou. She went from a quiet girl to a girl with such drive. She wanted to succeed and I found myself cheering her on. She was so likeable and I admired her ambition. Will had to grow on me, but I think that is what Moyles intended. He started out grumpy and aggressive but as we delved further into the book and further into his character, I found myself wanting him to live and to embrace this new life.

I thought this was a very well written and carefully thought out book. It isn’t soppy romance at all. It is almost a study into Will’s disability – he is quadriplegic – and the effect that would have on someone’s life. This is controversial as it addresses the issue of euthanasia but it is straight forward and to the point. As I was reading this book I was reminded of Jodi Picoult – Moyles’ writing style is not dissimilar to Picoult and she asks tough questions.

I didn’t like the ending of the book and I don’t particularly like the cover – it portrays the book to be something that it isn’t. However, this book did move me. I did cry whilst reading it and can only give this book praise. This is well worth reading.

4 star

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 THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Addition: Paperback
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis:

“Every expectant parent will tell you that they don’t want a perfect baby, just a healthy one. Charlotte and Sean O’Keefe would have asked for a healthy baby, too, if they’d been given the choice. Instead, their lives are made up of sleepless nights, mounting bills, the pitying stares of “luckier” parents, and maybe worst of all, the what-ifs. What if their child had been born healthy? But it’s all worth it because Willow is, well, funny as it seems, perfect. She’s smart as a whip, on her way to being as pretty as her mother, kind, brave, and for a five-year-old an unexpectedly deep source of wisdom. Willow is Willow, in sickness and in health.” Everything changes, though, after a series of events forces Charlotte and her husband to confront the most serious what-ifs of all. What if Charlotte should have known earlier of Willow’s illness? What if things could have been different? What if their beloved Willow had never been born? To do Willow justice, Charlotte must ask herself these questions and one more. What constitutes a valuable life?

I haven’t read a Jodi Picoult book in a long time but when my friend recommended this book at our book club I thought I would give it a try!

This story follows the O’Keefe  family. When Sean met Charlotte, she was a single Mum to Amelia. After they marry, it takes them a long time to conceive Willow. She is precious and greatly loved. But she has a disability – she suffers from a severe form of brittle bone disease. She is born with 7 broken bones, and will spend the rest of her life watching others do things she would love to do but can’t in case she breaks a bone. Life is a strain for them – money is tight because of medical expenses and everything is a hazard. After a trip to Disney World things start to go wrong for the family. Willow falls down and suffers a serious break. Amelia forgot the letter that explains Willow’s condition so Sean & Charlotte are accused of abuse, meaning Willow is left alone in the hospital for the night while Amelia is taken into care. It takes several hours for the situation to be sorted and Sean is left humiliated and furious. He decides to pursue legal action against the hospital but this won’t be successful. However, instead they are offered the chance to sue for wrongful birth – meaning had they been told early enough in the pregnancy about Willow’s condition they would have aborted her. Sean isn’t sure he can do that, but Charlotte decides they need the money to help support the family and pursues the lawsuit. However, this ruptures the family, with Sean filing for divorce; it leads Amelia to self-harm and develop an eating disorder and it ruptures friendships – the person who should have spotted Willow’s condition in the womb and the person Charlotte is suing was her best friend Piper. The biggest problem with the lawsuit however is this: Willow is going to be told they wish she hadn’t been born. How can this turn out well?

I was saying to a friend a couple of months ago that I haven’t read a book that has moved me for a long time. However, this book has done just that. I read this a few weeks ago and I’m still thinking about it. I find Jodi Picoult books do that. Years ago I read Nineteen Minutes when it was released, and I still think about this sometimes. What would I have done if my child had been the shooter? This book had the same effect on me – what would I have done? How would I cope with all the broken bones? How would I cope with the rising medical bills? How would I deal with the worry/stress/anxiety? Reading through this book, I don’t think I would have made the decisions that Charlotte made – but then I’ve never been there and I don’t have children so how would I know?

It’s difficult to describe what I felt reading this book. It’s not a happy read. In fact, it is quite depressing. Yet it is a compelling read. I had to keep going. I had to know what was going to happen. I didn’t like Charlotte and didn’t really like Sean either. They weren’t a unit and their girls needed them to be. Yet I loved Willow. She was sweet, clever and endearing. I felt for her as she faced so much pain – both physical and emotional. The more I read, the more I learnt about Willow’s condition and about the malpractice lawsuit. It was a fascinating and heartbreaking read.

I didn’t like the ending at all. I didn’t want the lawsuit to go the way it did but for me that wasn’t the worst thing for me. For me, the final chapter spoilt the book. They got so far, things were improving for the family and then Picoult writes that chapter. It felt me cross to be honest – I felt like it was a let down and perhaps a cop-out.

I’m conflicted about this book. I enjoyed it, yet I didn’t enjoy it. There were many issues in this book to deal with – which I think Picoult did. To be honest, I don’t think every storyline was needed – and perhaps the eating disorder and self-harm resolution was a bit unrealistic – a friend “happened” to notice her being sick. That said – Willow seeing Amelia self-harm and then trying it herself and nearly dying was heart-wrenching; yet had the friend not noticed Sean & Charlotte wouldn’t have realised what Amelia was doing.

I’ve rated this 4 out of 5 because this book did move me. I’m still thinking it through. The story was interesting and did keep me gripped. It is a sad story with a horrible ending but I will be recommending this book to people – although perhaps I might warn them that this isn’t a cheerful book.

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