Thursday, January 31, 2013

Me Before You: A Riveting Read

Have you ever picked up a novel expecting it to be a great read, but instead find yourself being pummeled with a “message”? You know the type, the ones where some highly publicized real life event is bastardized by a fiction writer in an attempt to capitalize on the sensation, or tell the other side of the story, or worse, push a personal agenda in the guise of thoughtful fiction. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve read, and enjoyed a few of those very books, but being smashed in the head with a hammer loses its appeal after a while. So, unless it’s done in a very tongue and cheek manner (thank you Max Barry) I try to avoid hot button novels.

Jojo Moyes, author of The Last Letter from Your Lover, a book I enjoyed, has produced with her newest novel Me Before You, a hot button novel, in that the story tackles the issue of assisted suicide. Usually, this has me running to me pile in search of something else to read, but in the case of Moyes’ work, what could have been a politically and socially fired look at suicide and Dignitas (a non-profit Swiss assisted dying group that helps those with terminal illness and severe physical and mental illnesses die through the aid of doctors), what readers get instead is a moving portrait of lost dreams, family, friendship, and unlikely love.

Me Before You is the story of Louisa Clark and Will Traynor. At the end of her financial rope, 26-year-old Louisa takes a job as companion to Will, a wealthy go-getter and thrill seeker, who is now a quadriplegic with little joy in his life, a large chip on his shoulder, and a far-reaching plan to end his suffering. As a reluctant friendship ensues, Lou must find a way to teach Will that he still has a life worth living.

This is a touching tearjerker that manages to display humor, love, and warmth. The characters are well-drawn, showing complexity that is rarely present in these types of books. Their chemistry is a blend of fire cracker and over-enthusiastic childlike behavior that creates a constant tug of war for the readers, drifting emotionally from embarrassed discomfort, gut-clenching laughter, snide snickers, misty eyes, and gulping tears; a mixture that works to enrapture and captivate through the novel’s beautifully written conclusion.

What easily could have been a story where an author shoves her opinion down the readers’ throats becomes a wonderfully touching narrative that presents the information and conclusion softly, allowing us to digest and process in our own ways. Author Moyes handles a rather controversial subject with a deft and a respectful hand; a thoughtful way to approach such a difficult topic, one which is too infrequently used by some authors (who will not be named here). So, if you are looking for a novel that approaches a real concept and handles it humanely, with three-dimensional characters you grow to love, scars and all, Me Before You is your book. A quietly riveting novel from beginning to end.

*You can meet Jojo Moyes and learn more about this book on Tuesday, February 12th at 7:30pm. Click here to learn more.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The 2012 Warwick's Bestseller List

Happy New Year! 2012 was a wonderful year for readers and Warwick's Events. Here is a list of the year's 50 bestsellers at Warwick's.

1. Fifty Shades of Grey - E L James
2. My Personal Panther - Jerry Cesak*
3. Wonder - R.J. Palacio*
4. Joseph Anton - Salman Rushdie* 
5. Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
6. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins
7. Rules of Civility - Amor Towles*
8. Service - Marcus Luttrell*
9. Fifty Shades Darker - E L James
10. The Sense of an Ending (paperback) - Julian Barnes
11. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins
12. In the Garden of Beasts -Erik Larson*
13. Fifty Shades Freed - E L James
14. The Language of Flowers - Vanessa Diffenbaugh
15. Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
16. The Tiger’s Wife - Téa Obreht*
17. Wild - Cheryl Strayed*
18. State of Wonder - Ann Patchett*
19. Sky of Red Poppies - Zohrah Ghahremani
20. Shadow of Night - Deborah Harkness*
21. The Secret Keeper - Kate Morton*
22. Lone Wolf - Jodi Picoult*
23. Fabulicious!: Fast and Fit - Teresa Giudice*
24. Mrs. Kennedy and Me - Clint Hill*
25. Dreams of Joy - Lisa See*
26. The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program - Gary Small*
27. The House at Tyneford - Natasha Solomons
28. The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes
29. Barefoot Contessa Foolproof - Ina Garten
30. Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts
31. Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand
32. The Age of Miracles - Karen Thompson Walker*
33. Sister - Rosamund Lupton
34. Admission Possible - Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz*
35. Life Is Not a Reality Show - Kyle Richards*
36. Nowhere Yet - Edward Cozza*
37. Food Lover’s Guide to San Diego - Maria Desiderata Montana*
38. Tiny Beautiful Things - Cheryl Strayed*
39. Where’d You Go Bernadette - Maria Semple
40. The Red Circle - Brandon Webb*
41. Killing Lincoln - Bill O’Reilly
42. Killing Kennedy - Bill O’Reilly
43. The Likeness - Tana French
44. Unlikely Friendships -Jennifer Holland
45. The Tuscan Sun Cookbook -Frances Mayes*
46. No Easy Day - Mark Owen
47. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel - Jeff Kinney
48. The Amateur - Edward Klein
49. Control the Crazy - Vinny Guadagnino*
50. Bring Up the Bodies - Hilary Mantel

*indicates sales from an author event