Health Topics in Fiction: A Review of Me Before You


By Cristina Lozare

Get “Me Before You” at your branch of the Howard County Library.

My mother and I loved three-hankie, weepy movies. We’d get teary-eyed, no matter how many times we saw Deborah Kerr in a wheelchair telling Cary Grant in an Affair to Remember, “If you can paint, I can walk.”


Me Before You by Jojo Moyeś did not only make me whip out the tissues, but it made me ponder life and the right to end it and the endless possibilities of love. Louisa Clark, 26-year-old working girl in a sleepy English village, is a caretaker of a very moody, suicidal quadriplegic 36-year-old, Will Traynor. Will, a former man about town, a lover of beautiful girls and a financial wizard, was hit by a motorcycle and has been in a wheelchair for two years. He has given his parents six months before he plans to end his life in a clinic in Switzerland. Unbeknownst to Louisa, she is hired to be on suicide watch for the duration.

Louisa and Will could not have come from more disparate backgrounds. Louisa wears blue sequined shorts, bumble bee tights and a mini dress made from her grandfather’s curtains. Will smells rich and acts privileged, even ensconced in a state-of-the-art wheelchair. Jojo Moyeś, has spot-on zingers in the interactions between Will and Louisa that are just witty and delightful. And she does not shy away from putting us behind the wheelchair and letting us see the unrelenting pain of Will Traynor. Nor do we escape unscathed when decisions have to be faced by Will and Louisa as the deadline looms.

The prose is not lofty, but realistic, funny and not sentimental. I found myself rooting for Louisa as she made plans to take Will to California, anything and anywhere to make him desire to live again. On the other hand, Will continuously encourages Louisa to stop limiting her horizons and to expand her experiences and start living life.

It is a unique love story, tender and eloquent in its desires. It opens up possibilities and more questions about life, and the right to end it. One thing I am sure of though, it is one love story my mother and I would have cried and cheered for for days.

Cristina Lozare has worked in the Howard County Library System for 18 years. She and her family consider Columbia their home. They are looking forward to bringing Granddaughter Izzy to HCLS’s many children’s classes. 



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By Cristina J. Lozare

“I don’t remember who said this, but there really are places in the heart you don’t even know exist until you love a child.”

-Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year

It was like falling in love all over again. Just as they said it would be. Lola, what Filipino grandmothers are called, is a title I am claiming for the first time in 60 years. I am struck with Isabela’s [ a.k.a. Izzy] pristine innocence and freshness. I come away from each visit amazed at how this little being changed our lives. It is like being in Indian summer in the midst of winter. I know that parenthood can at times feel like being lost in the vastness of wilderness. On the other hand, being a grandparent is like walking a straight line through the woods and skipping happily at that. I am bowled over by the purity of unconditional love that pours out of me when I think of Izzy.

Anne Lamott just became a grandmother too and published Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son. It is a heart-warming memoir full of anxiety, doubt and love about her 19-year-old son, Sam, and his desire to provide for his family while still a student in college. Lamott discovered that she found her third great love, “along with Sam and Jesus,” in baby Jax. Sam Lamott writes about his love for his newborn son and his dreams of keeping his family together. His childhood was narrated by his mother in Operating Instructions: A Journal of my Son’s First Year in 1993. Both books can help you understand the impact that parenthood and grand parenthood can have on a person, not that anyone can ever truly be prepared for either.

When I take care of Izzy, vignettes of my children when they were babies run through my mind. I can feel a tangible, nostalgic link with my parents and of all the generations past. There is an intensity of emotion that I feel when I hold Izzy in my arms. I hope that I will be granted the gift of time, enough to dance at her wedding someday.


Cristina Lozare has worked in the Howard County Library System for 18 years. She and her family consider Columbia their home. They are looking forward to bringing Izzy to HCLS’s many children’s classes.



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Inch Deep, Mile Wide: The Juice-Win Spin

Okay, so last month, I confessed my juice reboot failure, but it wasn’t for pity or even to vent my frustration (well, maybe a little venting). It was to share how I’ve learned from my mistakes and turned those lemons into lemonade (or a healthful lemon juice blend).

First off, let me say how much easier it is to incorporate juices into your diet when the weather is warmer–it’s often refreshing to grab a juice or smoothie instead of a big meal on these warmer days. Secondly, when the hubby and I were going for the full, 3-day reboot, we were a little overwhelmed (and hungry). We are currently trying to incorporate just one juice or smoothie into our day. We may try a reboot again just for the “clean slate” effect, but one a day seems much more do-able for us. I should note that though we may choose a juice or smoothie for breakfast or lunch, we are not doing this as part of some fad weight-loss/meal replacement plan. We simply want to incorporate more fruits and veggies into our diet, and a juice or smoothie makes that easier to do.

Speaking of easy, here’s the biggest win we’ve taken from our juice fail: keep it simple. For the juice reboot, we purchased a nice juicer, since we figured the soluble fiber from the juice might be a little easier on my sad digestive tract than the insoluble fiber you get from smoothies made in blenders (and we didn’t want to have to purchase a crazy-expensive Cadillac of a blender). We are still using the juicer, especially for harder fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, and pears. But making juicing and smoothies more part of our natural routine has meant looking for quicker and easier ways to do it. We were pleased to discover that our very ordinary blender could handle the job (within reason).

We also took advice from our friend Cristina, who has some family trying out juicing and smoothies. She said that they started with other people’s recipes, but eventually started changing them up a bit and trying things that worked better for them. For example, when the hubby and I started making smoothies instead of just juicing, we used the very popular 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse as a blueprint. We were a little bummed that some recipes called for sugar substitutes, since we don’t really like things overly sweet and were more interested in just adding some healthier foods to our diet instead of just losing weight. We started tweaking the recipes a bit and came up with a very basic formula for the world’s laziest smoothie, as demonstrated in the video below.

Finally, as I mentioned last month, the original juice reboot called for us to go vegan a few days leading up to the juicing and a few days after. We were going to use it as a jumping off point for the VB6 diet, and did to a certain point. Now that we are having juice or smoothies once a day, we find it is a lot easier to stick to only vegan (or at least vegetarian) fare before 6 p.m. most days. Do we falter some days? Absolutely. But our new simplified and laid-back approach to juicing and smoothies takes a lot of the pressure off and helps us to keep the momentum needed to maintain the healthier eating habits we are trying to acquire.

  • It's amazing how good a well-seasoned avocado can taste!
  • Salad and vegetable broth--sigh--very vegan and satisfying, if not altogether mouth-watering.
  • Steamed broccoli, brown rice, and tofu, made delicious with a little help from their good friends Sriracha and soy sauce.
  • Avocado also makes a great vegan topping for a whole-grain bagel.
  • The little blender that could!
  • Hey, does my blueberry smoothie resemble planet Earth? Maybe just a little?
  • Yummy vegan chili (with a dollop of cheating sour cream).
  • Vegan tacos? Yep, and tasty.


Joanne Sobieck-Lingg is glad to blog about her many, disparate interests (though expert in none, except maybe parenthetical asides). In past lives, she was a writer, proofreader, editor, project manager, teacher, and even co-coordinator of a certain health blog. She has been happily ensconced among the fiction and teen books at the Central Branch of HCLS since 2003.

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