Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Published December 31st 2012
Pamela Dorman Books/Viking
Louisa Clark is an ordinary young woman living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.
Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.
A love story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes is part of the pop culture vernacular: everyone knows the blockbuster movie that brought entire theaters to tears. This book and its movie are probably best known for the ending that feels like a knife in the gut, but there is so much in between the bouts of heartwrenching sadness.
In this book, quirky, awkwardly confident Louisa Clark is fired from her job and takes a post caring for Will Traynor, a wildly successful businessman and daredevil turned quadriplegic. Will is set on ending his life via assisted suicide and Louisa, the ever-cheerful and annoyingly optimistic, is his parents’ last attempt at changing his mind.
For such a heavy premise, the book was surprisingly light and airy. From the first page, the banter and wit of Moyes’s cast of characters was enough to plaster a stupid smile to my face. The relationships are rich and realistic and mirror life in a family just trying to scrape together enough pennies to pay rent and fill the fridge.
In the same frame of mind, the dynamic between Will and Louisa was entirely believable. In books I’ve read where Little Miss Sunshine is sent to brighten up the grumbly grump’s life, I thought that the change in the grumbly grump’s personality was quite unrealistic. I mean, really, can one person change that much? Me Before You answers the question with confidence: yes, they can, and Louisa Clark can make it happen. Will’s development as a character was perfectly timed and so well done.
What I loved most about this book was Louisa’s narrative voice. She’s twenty-six (I think), unemployed at the beginning of the book, and sees no respite in sight because she didn’t go to college and is unqualified for several of the well-paying positions. Despite her lack of higher education, Louisa is so smart. She looks at life with an intelligence that is engrained, not adopted. She may not have a college degree on her resume, but her wit and sense of benevolence place her way above the curve.
Overall, this book was a long, resounding yes. Moyes handled the sad parts with grace and the happy parts with joy and everything was just yes. I would recommend this book to anyone. If you are reading this post, then you should read this book. It was that stellar.
Have you read Me Before You? How do my thoughts compare to yours?