I think this would be a good starter book for someone who doesn't know anything about the Chinese cultural revolution. It doesn't go into a ton of det...moreI think this would be a good starter book for someone who doesn't know anything about the Chinese cultural revolution. It doesn't go into a ton of detail, but I think it would be a good place to start. Also, I looked up some YouTube videos of Li's dancing, and he's really fantastic. So it was interesting seeing how hard it was for him when he started. He makes it look effortless. (less)
**spoiler alert** I'm finding that I can't write about how this book made me feel without talking about what happens in it. And I mean every major plo...more**spoiler alert** I'm finding that I can't write about how this book made me feel without talking about what happens in it. And I mean every major plot point, not just the ending. What makes this a four star book isn't that the prose is particularly good or that I learned anything profound about myself or the world in which I live. It's the story, and these two characters, and the things that happen to them, and to say what that means, I have to talk about spoilers. So I'm marking this whole review as a spoiler, and if you continue to read on - if you click that little link - then on your own head be it.
(view spoiler)[This book did not end the way I wanted it to. I really want to hate it for that, to be totally pissed off at it for manipulating me into rooting for these characters and then rip out my heart at the end. But I just keep thinking of a quote from The Silver Linings Playbook: "Life is not a PG feel-good movie. Real life often ends badly. Literature tries to document this reality, while showing us it is still possible for us to endure nobly."
And that is so true. Sometimes, life just plain sucks. Sometimes, you are rich and handsome and vibrant and happy and then you get hit by an asshole on a motorcycle and end up a quadriplegic. Sometimes, you get to live in a town with one of those beautiful English castles and then one night, you get a little drunk and a little high and before you know it, you're being gang raped by a bunch of frat boys in the middle of a maze. Sometimes, you can go on a fabulous dream vacation with the man you love and on the last night you get in a huge fight and it ruins the whole experience. Sometimes, the boy doesn't get the girl. And sometimes, the boy does get the girl, but he chooses death anyway.
I knew how it was going to end. I'd accidentally seen a spoiler in a Goodreader's review. I had not been warned repeatedly, as you have, that the review would have details about the ending. And yet, even though I knew what was going to happen, I couldn't help but hope I'd read it wrong. As Louisa kept hoping that she'd change Will's mind, that this would be the outing that turned it all around, I also kept hoping right alongside her.
I'm not going to make any judgments or statements on the ethics or moral question of euthanasia. I really don't think, as a reader, it matters whether you think it is right or wrong. What matters is the way these two characters are able to touch and change each other.
And, yes, the supporting cast are all cookie-cutter and cliche: The sibling who's always overshadowed the heroine; the beautiful ex-girlfriend; the boyfriend who is such a fitness fanatic that he really only serves to be the polar opposite of a paralyzed man; the daffy parents. And yes, some of it is just too precious and contrived, like the family of the disabled person being so fabulously wealthy that money is no object when considering his treatment or the efforts to give him the will to live. His money even makes for a nice, tidy little epilogue where the money he leaves to Lou magically solves all her problems, except for the one where the love of her life commits suicide in her arms. That part actually does piss me off a little, as I know some real-life families who have to struggle and figure out how to make ends meet while paying for the care of a disabled family member, and remodeling their houses to be wheelchair accessible, and buying a car with a chair lift, etc., and the insurance money doesn't even begin to cover it. But I suppose if this book had focused on those very real struggles, we would have been distracted from the will-they-or-won't-they drama of two people falling in love. These are the reasons this book is not five stars.
But the fact remains that I did not want to put this book down. I stayed up way too late last night reading, and after I made myself turn out the light I still lay in bed thinking about this story. Today at work, I had the Kindle app on my phone open so I could sneak in a paragraph whenever I could. And when I finished, I just sat for a while and cried. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
When I first started this, I thought Pat's voice reminded me a lot of Charlie in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I didn't really like much. But...moreWhen I first started this, I thought Pat's voice reminded me a lot of Charlie in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I didn't really like much. But the more I read on, the more I liked Pat. I found him charming and dear. I adored the ending, which bumped the book from three to four stars. I think I like this book even better now that I've seen how they bastardized it for the movie. Bradley Cooper did a great job, and I love me some Jennifer Lawrence, but I did not like the changes to the story. I'm so glad it didn't win Best Adapted Screenplay, because if it had, I would have felt pretty pissed on behalf of Matthew Quick, whose story is so much better than the one Hollywood made up.(less)