I’m familiar with the writing of Jojo Moyes, as I’ve previously read The Girl You Left Behind, and my cohort, Elizabeth, has read and reviewed on this site One Plus One. Me Before You was loaned to me by a friend and avid reader. I could not put it down, and I am now a big advocate for reading Moyes’ works.
Me Before You is a wonderful story line about a controversial subject. Moyes writes with an authentic voice and infuses humor into a very smart book. Our protagonist, Louisa Clark is a working class girl - a waitress in a diner, and perfectly happy doing so. When the diner closes for good, she struggles to find work, not being highly skilled, and finds herself as a caregiver to a paraplegic. Her patient, Will Traynor, is rude, brash, and clearly disdains her. She hates her new job through and through. However, her family is relying on her income, so she hangs in there and decides to adjust her attitude. She won’t be a pushover and combats Will’s fiery moods with tough love. Soon they warm to each other and more.
Will has lived a cultured and privileged life, as he was a successful executive and adventurer before his devastating accident. He’s lost any care for life. Louisa’s goal is to give Will reason to live and gives him so much meaning in doing so. In return, Will gives plenty back to Louisa. In his ribbing, he encourages her to want more for herself. He gives her confidence through his high expectations and his trust in her. Their relationship evolves, and we fall in love with them both.
Their relationship is only part of the story. Will has to deal with living life wholly dependent on others. We go through this journey with him. Moyes presents perspectives primarily from Will and Louisa, but we also hear from others involved to provide a well-rounded and compassionate story. The budding relationship and backdrop of disability make for an emotionally knotty, heartbreaking book, but so well-written, it left me hungry for more. And I’m in luck, as all of us are, since there will be a sequel, After You, coming out some time this Fall. If you haven’t read Me Before You, please don’t miss out. There is a film in the works based on the novel, and you’ll want to read it before the follow-up book.
Publisher: Penguin Books
Vickie’s rating: 4 stars