This book by Jojo Moyes was one that I really was not looking forward to reading when the book club suggested it several months ago. I had heard from others that the story line was very reminiscent of many novels by Nicholas Sparks, and I had already sworn off his novels several years prior. After reading several chapters of this book, however I realized that there was a lot more to it than a sad ending.
The story revolves around 26-year old Louisa Clarke who has recently lost her job and is struggling to help support herself and her family. She reluctantly goes for an interview as a caretaker even though she has never worked in the field before. Camilla Traynor, a mother of a recent quadriplegic, hires Louisa out of desperation for her son’s mental health. Louisa starts work right away and meets a chilly Will Traynor. Will led an exciting and adventurous life before his accident, and has slipped into depression since.
Lou is immediately met with sarcastic remarks and an emotional wall with Will. She slowly chips away at his chilly demeanor with her silly remarks and her quirky clothes. Will quickly discovers an outlet for his energy in Lou. She has truly never lived her life and Will wants to make sure that she discovers what all life can be. Will has a secret though and Lou quickly finds out by overhearing his parents in conversation about Will ending his own life. Will has control over only one thing left in his life and that is how it will end. He is determined that he will not suffer anymore and he will end his own life in a dignified manner in less than six months.
After hearing this Lou is determined that she is going to make Will really live again, but what she doesn’t realize is Will is actually making her truly live for the first time in life. They enjoy concerts and even embark on a sunny vacation together. Will this be enough to change Will’s mind in the end though?
You will only find out if you read the book or take a trip to the movies to see the recently released movie based on the book. However after seeing the movie with the book club recently, I can certainly say my standard quote…”The book is almost always better than the movie!”
Formats Available: Book, Audiobook, E-book, Large Type
Reviewed by Sara, Okolona Branch
I love listening to comedic biographical audiobooks, better yet are comedic audiobooks read by the author themselves. I think it adds a more genuine quality to the listening experience because only authors truly know how they meant something to be interpreted. On an especially bleak day this fall I needed something uplifting and turned to Jenny Lawson’s newest book Furiously Happy. Jenny Lawson’s first title, Let’s Pretend this Never Happened, chronicles the bizarre things that seem to always happen to Lawson. From digging up a dead pet in her backyard so vultures won’t get it, to buying lots of taxidermied animals through the internet, Lawson has a lot of weird things happen to her. You’ll find the same love of taxidermy and strange happenings in her second book, but Lawson gets bit more personal this time about her mental health struggles.
The title of her second book comes from a blog post on one of her especially dark days. She is in the midst of a depression so dark she wasn’t seeing anyway out of it and instead of giving in and falling further into the black hole she makes a choice, be happy. Be so furiously happy that there is no room for darkness. Within hours of the blog post attached to #FuriouslyHappy thousands of messages poured in relating to Lawson’s experience and offering support.
The fame of her blog and the success of her first book put the spotlight on how many people suffer with anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders that are often misunderstood or diminished by those unfamiliar with the symptoms. Lawson delivers a slightly uncomfortable look at what dealing with these disorders does to your body, your family, and your friends. She is brave and honest about her attempts to hurt herself, the days when she isn’t able to leave her bed, and how much she hates and loves being successful. She approaches these setbacks not with defeat but with the knowledge that tomorrow is a new and hopefully better day.
Her awkwardness is relatable as I’m sure everyone has had a moment where they’ve said something they regret or made a fool of themselves and can’t hide. Perhaps we haven’t all pulled a taxidermied raccoon claw from our bags during a huge press conference for a newly published book; but the metaphor is there. We’ve all done embarrassing things because we are all human. Getting up, moving forward, and trying to make better tomorrows is the overall message in this hilarious book where almost anything could come out of Jenny Lawson’s mouth. Really, she says some ridiculous things.
Formats Available: Book, eBook
(Note: LFPL does not have this title in Audiobook format at the moment)
Reviewed by Lindsay, Southwest Branch