Me Before You
By Jojo Moyes
(Penguin Books, Paperback, 9780143124542, July 2013, 400pp.)
The Short of It:
Smart, funny, heartwarming and yes, a bit gut-wrenching. I was warned to not read it in public due to its sob-inducing content but it doesn’t really matter where you read it, as long as you read it!
The Rest of It:
It’s difficult for 35-year-old Will Traynor to accept his quadriplegic status. Prior to being struck by a motorcycle, he traveled all over the world living life to the fullest. But his days and nights are now spent reliant on others. Nathan, his primary caregiver, takes care of his medical needs, but when his family sees how despondent he is about his current condition and the fact that’s he’s attempted to kill himself once already, they intervene by hiring a secondary caregiver by the name of Louisa Clark.
Louisa (Lou) is a struggling 26-year-old. Having just lost her job, her prospects are slim and having to support her father, mother and sister forces her to consider jobs that she normally would not give a second thought to. When she’s sent to interview for a caregiver position, she gives it a go, not realizing what her true purpose will be, which is essentially to give Will a reason to live again.
Tall order, huh?
At first, Lou has no idea what her job is. She’s there to be a companion to Will and to watch him when Nathan is not around. Although she feels awkward around Will. she quickly realizes what she’s been tasked with and after a minor freak-out, she embraces it. Albeit, not all that confidently at first, but after getting to know Will and what he’s all about, she feels sure that she can sway his position on life in general.
I think the success of this book, has a lot to do with Lou as a character. She’s efficient but in a bumbling sort of way. Not perfect, but her flaws make for some entertaining reading. Her too tight skirts and odd sense of style are endearing but her genuine concern over Will is what makes this entire situation a bitter pill to swallow. Her dedication to him and yes, her eventual love for him prove to be very challenging obstacles, but ones that she is willing to push through in order to get the result she wants.
What makes this story even more special, is that it’s as much about Lou, as it is about Will. From the moment Will sees Lou, he knows why she’s there. Even though he’s chair bound, he realizes he’s in the perfect position to see that Lou (he calls her Clark) lives the life that he cannot. Through new experiences, some they make together and some Lou manages on her own, the two manage to add a little bit of adventure to their day-to-day existence.
Through it all, you can’t help but be reminded of Will’s precarious health. His inability to regulate his body temperature, his increased risk for infection and his drastic mood swings are all reminders of what they are up against. In the middle of happiness, comes heartache and it’s so incredibly difficult to understand how a life can change so drastically in such a short amount of time. The unfairness of it all will leave you shaking your head and if you’re the type to cry while reading, you will definitely well-up with this one.
This is the type of read that will take you through all of the emotions. I was happy, sad, disappointed and mad. There were times when I wanted nothing else but to curse Will’s mother or shake some common sense into Will, but all in all, the experience of reading this book was like spending time with dear friends. It took me forever to pick it up because I really considered it to be straight-up romance and it’s really, so much more than that.
If you haven’t picked it up yet, you must! The cost of care and the use and availability of assisted-suicide are some of the weightier issues included in this novel. Will is rich, so the cost of his care is not really an issue but I imagine it would be for a lot of folks in the same situation. My book club chose not to read Me Before You but I think we missed out on a good discussion opportunity because there is plenty to discuss with this one.
Source: Sent to me by the publisher via a blog giveaway. Thanks Jean!
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.
29 thoughts on “Review: Me Before You”
Now you see why I was completely ANNOYED that it was brushed off by your book club. Geez. SO not just a love story. I still have a recurring memory of Lou and Will on the dance floor at that wedding…
There were lots of great moments between Lou and Will. Oh, those tights! Swoon.
Wow, can’t believe it about your book club!
They heard romance and just tuned it out. I have to say, prior to all of you gushing over it I passed it over as a fluffy romance as well but by the time it was pitched for book club I was on board, but not really anybody else was.
Wooo! I’m glad you enjoyed it, too. Such a wonderful book with lovely characterization.
I think I was offered two of her other books to review and I turned them down. What a dolt I am!
I loved this book! I am not really a person who cries when I read sad books, but if I were, I would have cried a river over this one. This one was one of my favorites last year.
There was one part where I literally gasped out loud then I welled-up a couple of time. But yeah, I didn’t cry really either.
Love your thoughts about this book…for some reason I have not wanted to read it yet…
I’m sure it’s because of him being a quadriplegic. Reading it made me glad that I live in the US though because being disabled anywhere else would be hell. No ramps, no accommodations at all or very little of what you’d expect here.
I love/hate this book. I really wish there had been a happier, well-developed quadriplegic character for balance and I wish the book was less about wanting what you don’t have and more about appreciating what you do have. That goes for Lou especially.
I think Lou was happy with what she had, but didn’t realize her potential. She was mired down by familial obligations but seemed to genuinely love her family and appreciated them. Will seemed a little superficial before the accident. I mean, we don’t spend much time with him before the injury, but he seemed like a player. LOL. Dating women, dropping loads of cash to travel all over the world, etc. I think the accident made him appreciate those moments more.
Had there been no money, this would have been a different story for sure.
I was thinking more the “moral” for the reader related to Lou’s case. As you said, what would people without money do in these situations? I wish the ending had been less easy in that respect, letting Lou work out of her situation differently.
The affluence of the family is the main problem I had. I didn’t go into it but I took off a star for it on Goodreads. The assumption was that money could buy her the life she never had. True, she struggled with finances but I resented that part of the story.
I do plan to read this book, but I confess to being on the fence about it much of the time. I’m more interested in another of the author’s books which sounds more up my alley. Still, all the rave reviews of it have got me curious. I am glad you enjoyed it so much!
I agree – this would be a fabulous book club choice. I listened to it and had to pull off the road for a good sob towards the end.
When I get this book I will be sure to buy a box of tissues at the same time.
This was my favorite book read in 2013, and I have been recommending it to all of my book reading friends. I could not stop thinking about this book days after I had finished reading it. I recently found out that it’sgoung to be made into a movie. I don’t usually enjoy watching movies made from books, but I am suoer curious about this one, and who they will get to play Will and Lou.
I could totally see it as a movie, but I hope they drop the castle stuff. That was a little touristy and strange. Who do you see as the main characters? Will needs to be older. Someone rather vibrant or having the air of once having been so… Ian Somerhalder?? The guy from Lost?
Louisa is harder. I keep thinking Scarlett Johansson but she is too pretty I think.
Ok, since you tend to be like me and not fall for the hype…this sounds like it could be an actual winner worthy of the hype!
I’d say it lives up to the hype. It’s not perfect but it’s a thought-provoking read for sure.
Great to read how much you enjoyed this. I was pleasantly surprised as well.
I have been meaning to give this book a go for a while now. Your review pushed me over. I just purchased it for my Kindle.
I loved this one so much, even three months later. Such a beautiful, thoughtful book! Yes, it made me mad too by the end, but that feeling didn’t last long. The author wrote it well enough that it still leaves us happy by the end. Sort of like watching Marley and Me.
You didn’t cry? You have nerves of steel. I was full-on ugly crying during the last few chapters AND at least 30 minutes after I finished it – great big gulping sobs with snot running down my face and everything. I’ve never felt so drained while reading a novel. I simply adore this book. I would even chance the audio but since I listen to audios at work only, that could get really ugly very quickly.
I am so happy you finally read this one. It’s one of my favorites. Such a complicated love story. Had elevated Jojo Moyes to a much higher level. I hand sell this book each and every day. Loved your review.
You are so right. Before this, I turned down all of her books. I considered them chick-lit! Not anymore.
Our book club had such a great discussion about this one; sorry to hear that your’s passed on it. You’re so right; by making this book at least as much about Lou as Will, Moyes keeps the book from getting weighed down and maudlin.
Yes I loved this book! So glad you liked it!