Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Published by Penguin Books on December 31, 2012
Genres: Romance, Fiction, Contemporary
“You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”
Some books suck you into its world and take you on an adventure without ever leaving your chair. Some books make you want to get up and go on your own adventure. For me, Me Before You is the latter.
I first bought this book back in 2016 around the time the movie was released in hopes of reading it before seeing the movie. I never got around to it and caved into watching the movie last year. I wanted to pick up the book after and see what changed or stayed true. That failed though and I didn’t end up actually reading it until I downloaded the audiobook earlier this week. And I’m really glad that I didn’t finish it until now.
Me Before You follows two characters who never would’ve crossed paths if not for the circumstances they both found themselves in. Will Traynor was injured in a motorcycle accident, causing a spinal cord injury which made him a quadriplegic. Louisa Clark was laid-off her cafe job and found an opening as a caretaker. Between Will’s cynicism towards everything and Louisa’s quirky personality, they form an unlikely bond.
To fully decompress this book, there will be spoilers below. If you loved The Fault in Our Stars or A Walk to Remember or The Titanic, this is most definitely the book for you. Jojo Moyes’ writing flows so smoothly it’s like listening to a friend talk.
Outside of being a romance, this book tackles a couple of heavy issues. Probably the biggest is assisted suicide. A touchy topic, but this book forces you to examine it from all angles. From someone in a similar situation, a parent’s perspective, a caretaker, a lover, a stranger, a sibling, a reader, all the way to the person’s shoes. A couple of times in the book do we get Will’s POV and settle into his mind and what his new life is like. It’s a subject where there’s no right answer. No correct opinion. There’s just…personal choice and those surrounding you need to accept your choices as your own. Which is the hardest, I find, to grapple with in this book. I’m not going to debate this topic or express my own thoughts. Only examine what Jojo Moyes gave us.
Will is iron-minded and despite Louisa’s best efforts to try and get him to change his mind, he doesn’t budge. I cannot say I blame him. He never got through the grieving period of losing the life he once lived. Sometimes you can’t come back from something like that. However, I found myself wanting to shake sense into him because of who he was with Louisa was worth holding onto. But his choices are his own and in a situation where he wouldn’t get any better and would always be at the mercy of something like pneumonia taking him, I understood why he kept his mind resolute.
The other semi-heavy topic I felt this book dealt with is living life to its fullest. This doesn’t seem like a heavy topic but it can be. Watching Will consistently, every day grieve in his own way the loss of his former life and preach to Louisa about getting out of their little town, woke me up. We all hear all the time about how everything can change in a second. Maybe you’re like me and you usually brush it off. But this book made me step into Will’s shoes and understand what it means to lose everything. If you have your health, you do have everything. If Will hadn’t led such a grand life before the accident then he may never have done any of those things at all. This book just really got me thinking about how it’s important to do what you want in this life and not to wait. Nothing is permanent and consequences be damned. One day all we all will have is our memories so it’s important that those memories are good.
Emilia Clark was honestly the perfect actress to play Louisa. I think Emilia and Louisa have a lot in common and I could only picture Louisa as Emilia. The character development Louisa goes through from beginning to end is one of my favorite parts of this book. I love a good character arc and Louisa definitely made a 180 from who she was. She was someone who was content in her little town, in her little life she lived, with a boyfriend who was not at all right for her but they were together because it was comfortable. Those six months with Will made her see the bigger world around her even if she only left that small town twice in that time frame. She might not have changed his mind, but she made his last six months better than they would’ve been if someone else had gotten that job. They both made each others’ lives better even if they didn’t get their happily ever after. Which is probably the last heavy topic this book deals with. A happy ending doesn’t always mean ending up together or coming out of something unbroken. You can be broken but still go on to do happy things. Life moves on. You just have to move with it.
Me Before You made me feel a lot of things. Many good. Many sad. I felt like I learned a little bit, too. The latter isn’t something you usually get out of a love story, but I think that’s what makes this one so special. Now excuse me as I continue being sad and unashamedly rewatch the movie…