Author: Jojo Moyes
Pages: 481 (Paperback)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Release Date: January 5, 2012
Source: I bought this book myself
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Lou never dreamt higher than her job as a waitress in The Buttered Bun. She loved it there, she knew the faces of every costumer, her employer liked her and she felt at home in that place. But when she suddenly becomes unemployed, Lou finds herself jumping from job to job until she ends up as a caretaker of a quadriplegic. Will is nothing like she thought he would be. He is rude, he bullies her and she tries to busy herself with household chores – like cleaning dust that isn’t there – just to avoid talking to him. And, on top of all, she had to make him want to live. In fact, that’s what Will wants for her too. He wants Lou to truly live, to travel the world, to have new experiences, to expand her horizons. All that potential shouldn’t be waisted in a small English village with an old castle as the only attraction.
“Me Before You”, by Jojo Moyes, is a beautiful, heartbreaking contemporary romance. I just couldn’t put it down as I was desperate to find out what happened next. I enjoyed watching Lou fail miserably in her vague attempts to make Will happy until she finally found something that he truly enjoyed: music. I adored seeing their relationship bloom, making even Lou doubt if she truly loved her boyfriend Patrick.
Thread carefully, there may be spoilers ahead! However, I must admit that I was truly MAD that Will decided to go ahead with his plan. I didn’t actually cry half as much as I expect to while reading the book, but I did shed a few tears on this part. Nevertheless, more than a love story, “Me Before You” was about living as a quadriplegic. We never get Will’s point of view on this matter, but we can still feel his pain and despair. What especially touched me was the way other people looked at him, which, truly, I think is the way we all tend to look at quadriplegic and other disabled people. Like they were some other species of humans. We pity them when they don’t need our pity; they just need to be treated like normal people, but society somehow can’t adapt to that idea. Will couldn’t bare that, or the fact that he would never be able to live the life he had planned, nor give Lou what she needed. I understand why he did what he did, although it broke my heart into miserable little pieces, but by dying, he gave Lou the life she would never be able to have.
What I didn’t like so much was that most of the story was written in Lou’s POV, but suddenly there was a chapter with Catherine’s opinion, then Steven’s, Nathan’s and even Katrina’s. I guess that this was to show that Will’s condition and his decisions affected not only him, but every one around him, but I just felt that those chapters were out of place. Yes, they did move the story further but, for it to work, I think that there should be more alternating POVs or none at all. I think that I would have preferred that it was all written from Louisa’s side. The writing itself was fairly fluid, although I noticed that Moyes enjoys some run-on sentences, and the pacing was steady. There was always something happening and that feeling of wanting to know if Lou fulfilled her quest kept me gripping the pages.
I think that “Me Before You” is a truly inspiring novel with a message so strong it goes beyond romance. Yes, sometimes love can’t conquer death, but one person with a smile and a few clumsy words can make those last six-months the best of someone’s life. And then again, maybe love does conquer death because Will made Lou see things differently and that change he caused on her would still accompany her long after he was gone. I absolutely recommend “Me Before You”. It’s a must-read, a book that will make you see your life differently and cherish every moment. “Just live well. Just live.”