Book Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
I’ve had this book on my ereader for quite a while but when I heard it had been made into a movie, I thought I’d finally read it before it premiered. I’m now torn whether that was a good idea or not. Not because I hated the book. No, because I’m now worried the filmed version won’t do it justice.
I loved, loved, loved this book.
I must say, despite its popularity and the upcoming movie, I had little idea of what Me Before You was actually about. I always thought it was a lighthearted piece of romantic chick lit. The movie snippets make it look like a rom com. And I suppose at times it does fit nicely into that genre. But, it’s so much more.
Lou Clark is our heroine. And what a heroine she is. For me, she’s up there with such greats as Jo March and Harriet Vane for brilliant female book characters. Everything about Lou is perfect. She’s so strong on the page. From her working class English background to her quirky fashion sense — she works for me.
Our hero could be classed as rather unconventional. Will Traynor is a quadriplegic. Prior to the accident that placed him in the wheelchair, he was an adrenaline junkie, enjoying the high life with his career, his romantic relationships, and his wildly adventurous trips to exotic locations. Now, needing frequent hospitalisation and relying on carers and nurses constantly, he’s understandably depressed and bitter.
The book opens with Lou’s circumstances reaching such a crisis point that she has little choice but to accept the Traynors’ offer of employment and become Will’s day time carer.
If you’ve read that and assume Will softens and Lou sees beyond his disability and it’s funny and sweet and hearts and rainbows and unicorns, then… Well, you’re halfway there. Me Before You, however, is not so simplistic.
Moyes has done her homework on quadriplegia. Even without the depressing medical side effects of his injury, such as being susceptible to pneumonia etc, the physical limitations Will faces from being in a wheelchair are frustrating and saddening in such a modern society. The clever way Moyes weaves the everyday issues and challenges someone in a wheelchair has to overcome into the book’s plot is extremely clever. If you’re a relatively healthy able bodied person, you can count on this book to make you pause and be thankful, if nothing else.
Will thinks along the same lines when it comes to Lou. He starts to encourage her to not waste a minute. And slowly she starts to open up to him and we learn why she’s made some of her life’s choices and set such boundaries with her career and personal relationships.
This part, for me, was the most poignant scene I’ve read in a book for a long while. It was quite short. Just a few paragraphs, but it was realistic and rang true and (unlike some books) explained most of Lou’s choices (including her career, her boyfriend and her fashion sense).
I hope, hope, hope, they don’t water down this part in the movie. I also hope they don’t soften Will’s choices in the movie. (I did notice that Moyes herself wrote the script, so this gives me some optimism.)
5/5 stars, instant favourite, highly rec.