Book Review #22: Me Before You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance
Days to Read: 1 week
Companion Tea: Earl grey… It just seemed like the British thing to drink!
Synopsis (as taken from Chapters): Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl 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 Thoughts: I’ve been putting off reviewing this book until I was emotionally over it, because I knew that as I got deeper into my review I’d just be bawling. So yes. I apologize. Anyways. I think it’s safe to say that I absolutely adored this book. I had read mixed reviews of it online before receiving this book from the publisher, so I wasn’t sure what to make of it. But as soon as I delved into it, I knew it was going to become an important part of my book collection. Characters are, for me, the biggest part of a book. The plot can be completely stupid, but if you have real, enduring characters, I can see past the plot issues. With Me Before You, I was invested in Louisa and Will—and the smattering of secondary characters, comprising of their families and friends—and needed everything to be alright. The prologue of the book did exactly what a prologue should do: make the reader need to read more. And after the last page of the prologue, I just had to find out what happened next. Cue me reading for hours on end.
Louisa was a wonderful protagonist. Stubborn, lively, shy and content to settle for less than she deserves (which, if we want to be honest with ourselves, we all do). As she entered Will’s life, I just knew that this love story was not going to be that typical boy-meets-girl sort of love story you read about in countless novels. From Will’s attitude towards life and the people around him to Louisa’s never-ending attempts to prove him wrong, Me Before You had me rooting for them from the start—and not for the reasons one would think. Louisa had never truly lived; whereas Will had up until a certain point in his life. Through their friendship, he shows her there is a life outside of their sleepy little town and she shows him there is a life outside of his house.
While I won’t divulge too much of the plot and the climax, I will say that just the premise of this book will make even the most non-emotional person become tearful and it will make you think long after the last page has been read. You’ll go through all the possible scenarios in your head—what would you do in their positions? What would say? Feel? Where does faith lie in all of this?
The fact that I was crying for hours after reading this book is due to Jojo Moyes’ ingenious storytelling. She didn’t tweak plot developments or change the consistency of characters to invoke emotional responses from her readers. She, instead, used simple realism and heart-wrenching choices to inflict pain on us. It didn’t feel like I was reading a fictional story; it felt like a memoir. I both wanted this story to be real—and yet I hoped with all my might that this story couldn’t happen in real life. Moyes’ honesty was too hard to bear. But while this book was a definite “cry-me-a-river” sort of story, I couldn’t help but be uplifted by its message as well.
I cannot recommend Me Before You enough to you all.
Read if for the romantic in you.
Read it for the cynic in you.
Read it for a look inside a life that doesn’t seem worth living.
Read it for a look inside a life that believes in always looking at a half-full cup.
Read it to change your life.
Read it for yourself.
My Rating: 9/10 — It lost a point for all my incessant crying, making it hard for me to drive home with tear-filled eyes. Such a driving hazard!
“You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”
“‘I just . . . want to be a man who has been to a concert with a girl in a red dress. Just for a few minutes more.’ I released the door handle. ‘Sure.’ I closed my eyes and lay my head against the headrest, and we sat there together for a while longer, two people lost in remembered music, half hidden in the shadow of a castle on a moonlit hill.”
“Push yourself. Don’t Settle. Just live well. Just LIVE.”
“I hadn’t realized that music could unlock things in you, could transport you to somewhere even the composer hadn’t predicted. It left an imprint in the air around you, as if you carried its remnants with you when you went.”
“It’s just that the thing you never understand about being a mother, until you are one, is that it is not the grown man – the galumphing, unshaven, stinking, opinionated off-spring – you see before you, with his parking tickets and unpolished shoes and complicated love life. You see all the people he has ever been all rolled up into one.
I look at him and see the baby I held in my arms, dewing besotted, unable to believe that I’d created another human being. I see the toddler, reaching for my hand, the schoolboy weeping tears of fury after being bullied by some other child. I saw the vulnerabilities, the love, the history.”
“I realized I was afraid of living without him. How is it you have the right to destroy my life, I wanted to demand of him, but I’m not allowed a say in yours?”
“I let him know a hurt had been mended in a way that he couldn’t have known, and for that alone there would always be a piece of me indebted to him.”