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.
The verdict is in, I’m a heartless monster. There can’t be any other conclusion drawn from the fact that I was completely tear free by the end of this novel. A novel which had the majority of its readers gushing and fawning over the romantic pair and tragic ending. However, I was oddly unmoved by Will’s death. I can’t have been the only one but I seem to be in the minority.
Lou, as a protagonist, left much to be desired. Her point of view was dry, juvenile and she leaned towards being self-absorbed. Her ill-fated attempts to change Will’s mind were bound to be disasters from the get go and while I admire her dedication I wondered at her complete lack of understanding. To drive my monstrous lack of connection to this novel home I have to admit to, I don’t want to say cheering, but encouraging Will to remain steadfast in his decision to go to Switzerland. I am a romantic at heart, but I would have been disappointed if Will had been capable of putting his pain aside for love. I feel like that would have been an unrealistic ending. The majority of this novel was spent split between shaking my head pityingly at Lou and wanting to shake some sense into her.
There were brief interludes in which we experienced multiple points of view which felt unnecessary. Especially considering that at the pivotal point of the novel, Lou deciding to travel to Switzerland to witness Will’s assisted suicide, we were in Lou’s sister’s head. I did not read this entire novel only to reach this moment and be drafted to bouncing around inside the mind of a secondary character. If the author was incapable of showcasing Lou’s change of heart she should not have written about such a difficult topic.
I recently watched the movie as well and I was actually very impressed with the movie’s ability to be light-hearted despite the heavy subject matter. In a way that the book sometimes lacked due to us being privy to Lou’s desperate thoughts.
Despite the core of this novel being the budding relationship between Lou and Will their transition from indifference to love, while inevitable, felt inorganic. It felt more like a product of their circumstances and less like the all consuming passion I had envisioned when picking up this novel.