Review - Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: 5 January 2012
Genre: Literary Fiction
My Copy: Library

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?


Louisa Clark reminds me of myself. Twenty-six with an ordinary life she thinks she enjoys when really she's just afraid, partly due to circumstances in her past. She loves to read, and never ventures out of the town she lives in. She has a quirky sense of style. Her boyfriend has grown into a stranger over the last few years. Will Traynor is a reclusive quadriplegic who can't quite accept his new circumstances. He lived a big life full of adventure, and now he is confined to a chair and decisions made by others. He's determined to make one last choice for himself, and it could be the most important one of all. When she loses her quiet job at a coffee shop/bakery, she is forced to find a new job; catapulting her into Will's life and changing both of them.

Perhaps because of our similarities, I easily connected with Louisa. She is a little naive in the beginning, but she grows an enormous amount through the book. To a lesser extent, Will also changes from the beginning to the end of the book. Will's sarcastic humor and his banter with Louisa made me crack up laughing on more than one occasion, earning me several side glances from my mom as if to ask if I was alright. He shows her that life is so much more than being afraid and staying in one small town, and awakens her to her own potential. Nathan adds just the right amount of connection to reality when Louisa gets caught up in the possibilities of the future. Will's mom is such a believable character to me. The events of Will's life up to the point at which we meet him shaped her character into the rough, seemingly heartless mother she is, but the further you get into the book, the less heartless she becomes. There are a few scattered chapters told from the perspective of other characters in the book, and their voices added another level to the story and the relationship that forms between Louisa and Will.

I disagree a little with the idea of this being primarily a love story. To me, the main story is about changes in life, and the different ways people react to them. The plot was great, although I never had any doubts about how the book would end. Many parts of the story are very dark, but there are some lighthearted bits as well. It stays very true to circumstances and reactions from people involved making the story realistic, and in many ways, even more heartbreaking. I particularly loved the scene at the castle with Will and Louisa, Louisa's birthday, and the vacation scene. While the pace occasionally falls a little flat, overall it stayed fairly steady.  This is the first book I've read by Jojo Moyes, and I was very impressed. I would definitely recommend this story to other readers, particularly those who loved The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. (The stories are very, very different. This is not a comparison of the two, but I think they might appeal to the same reader.) I have reserved a copy of One Plus One at the library, and I can't wait to read it.

"Good to meet you, Patrick," Will said. "And thank you for the....advice." 
"Oh, just trying to help my girlfriend get the best out of her job," he said. "That's all." There was a definite emphasis on the word my.
"Well, you're a lucky man," Will said, as Nathan began to steer him out. "She certainly gives a good bed bath." The words came out so quickly that the door was closed before Patrick even realized what he had said. - Will & Patrick

You only get one life. It's actually your duty to live it as fully as possible. - Will

Some mistakes...just have greater consequences than others. But you don't have to let the result of one mistake be the thing that defines you. You, Clark, have the choice not to let that happen. - Will

"Hey Clark," he said. "Tell me something good." I started out of the window at the bright blue Swiss sky and I told him a story of two people. Two people who shouldn't have met, and who didn't like each other much when they did, but who found they were the only two people in the world who could possibly have understood each other. And I told him of the adventures they had, the places they had gone, and the things I had seen that I had never expected to. I conjured for him electric skies and iridescent seas and evenings full of laughter and silly jokes. I drew a world for him, a world far from a Swiss industrial estate, a world in which he was still somehow the person he wanted to be. I drew the world he had created for me, full of wonder and possibility. - Will & Louisa

I thought, briefly, that I would never feel as intensely connected to the world, to another human being, as I did in that moment. - Louisa

Rating Breakdown:
Plot: 5 stars
Pacing: 4 stars
Characters: 5 stars
Ending: 5 stars
Recommend: YES!!


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