Title: Me Before You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Publisher: Penguin, 2016
Me Before You centers on 26 year old Louisa (Lou) Clark who is lives a rather plain and unadventurous life. The job that she loves at a local cafe abruptly comes to end when the cafe goes out of business. Because of the financial situation her and her parents, her sister and nephew are in she is forced to take employment anywhere she can find it. She answers a job listing to be the caregiver of Will Traynor a 30-something outgoing, wealthy business man who has recently been confined to a wheelchair after being hit by a motorcycle. His injuries have left him paralyzed from the his upper chest down which brings about many health issues including almost constant plain, the inability to regulate his body temperature and frequent bouts of pneumonia.
Living confined to his chair and in his health condition has left Will, previously active and social, wanting to end his own life via medical assisted suicide. He gave his parents 6 months before he intends to go through with his plans. After learning of this, Lou plans to change his mind by making the rest of his days full of fun and adventure.
What You Can Learn From This Book
Me Before You does a great job with characterization. Over the 400 pages, the reader really gets to know Will, Louisa and some of the other characters to some extend. Everyone in this novel feels like unique and interesting people with their own hopes, dreams and backstory. No character seems one dimensional or boring. Even though Lou lives a rather simple life before meeting Will, her personality fills each page.
Jojo Moyes also does a great job at making opposites attract and for pulling on one's heart strings. Will is often petulant and annoyed by Lou's upbeat and "chatty" personality and wild fashion choices. Lou is put off by Will's sad and irritable demeanor. Yet, as they spend more time together, they become true companions before falling in love. One of the best moments of the book is when Will gives Lou a birthday gift of her favorite thing in the world (bumblebee stripe tights). These touching and well-crafted moments make the novel very remarkable.
The negatives of this novel mainly come from the ending. While I don't read Romantic fiction a lot, I do know that one of the hallmarks of the genre is a happy ending. Yet, Moyes turns this one its head when she has Will continue with his plan to end his life even after falling in love with Lou. The ending also angered many people who fight for disabilities rights as they believed the ending was trying to say disabled people should cease to exist. While I am not happy with the ending , I don't believe there was in malice or prejudice on the part of the author when writing the novel. The book covers (far more than the film) the extend of the physical discomfort and emotional distress Will feels after being injured which is why I understand his ultimate choice.
I believe new writers can learn about how to craft real and detailed characters as well as write a sweet and interesting love story from reading Me Before You. You can pick up a copy at a book store, online, or at your local library.