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A Review of "Me Before You" by Jojo Moyes --A Novel That Puts You on an Emotional Rollercoaster

Me Before You Plot Summary 

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl who has never explored the world beyond her own small village.  After losing her job, she realizes she isn't qualified for anything lucrative, and not much is available in the midst of an economic recession.  Since her family relies on her financial contributions, she takes the least horrible job available--a companion and helper for a quadriplegic.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Me Before You is book one of the trilogy, and it's also a movie.

Will Traynor is used to living a big life.  As a former business tycoon accustomed to participating in extreme sports, traveling the world, and dating hot women, he finds himself unable to cope in the confines of a wheelchair with no use of his legs and arms, never leaving the annex of his wealthy parents' home.  

After a rocky start together, Louisa and Will not only adapt to each other, they begin to fall in love, but will their love be strong enough to change Will's plans to end his suffering?

Me Before You Is Reminiscent of Pygmalion and My Fair Lady

When you begin to read this novel, you wonder how a 26-year-old girl could have so few skills, so little ambition, and no clue what she wants to do with her life.  Lousia Clark lives with her family, she has a steady boyfriend, she works in a café, and has no interests.  As you continue reading, however, you realize the author is crafting a growing-up novel because you watch Louisa progress developmentally as the story unfolds.

Will Traynor has lived a full life by his mid-thirties, and his objective is to help Louisa broaden her horizons, dream bigger, and achieve her full potential.  He knows a diamond in the rough when he sees one.  

Will introduces Louisa to literature, movies, the orchestra, and other finer things in life--he becomes the Professor Higgins to her Eliza Doolittle.  

Louisa is determined to show Will that life is worth living, and with her new-found confidence, she plans outings and trips abroad to bolster his spirits.

Me Before You-Louisa & Will at the Wedding
Louisa surprises Will when she asks him to take her for a whirl on the dance floor at his ex-girlfriend's wedding.

The Book Title Isn't About Selfishness

When you first read the title, Me Before You, it smacks of selfishness.  As you follow the journey of Louis and Will, however, you come to the realization how brilliantly titled the novel is.   

Here's how Jojo Moyes explains it, "Well, it's a deliberately vague title, but in my head it's 'who we were before we met the other.'"

FYI--Me Before You is the first book in the trilogy.  Find all the books and the DVD here:

Me Before You Makes You More Empathetic Towards Quadriplegics

Unless you are in a wheelchair or know someone who is, understanding what someone confined to one is challenged with every day isn't an easy concept to wrap your mind around.

You never think about how they take care of their personal hygiene, the bed sores and infections they are prone to, the stares they get in public, how inaccessible some areas are for wheelchairs, how uncomfortable people act when approaching them, the depression they face from such a position of helplessness, etc.  They suffer many indignities we can't imagine--we take so much for granted!

This book will open your eyes and your heart and make you count your blessings.

After their night at an orchestra concert, Will asks Louisa to just sit with him a little longer in the car before they go inside the house.  He says, "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."

Me Before You--Will & Louisa at Orchestra
Louisa and Will attend an orchestra performance.

How tragic!  Will is the same person on the inside he's always been, but his body has become a prison. 

On one hand, Moyes gives quads hope that despite their limitations, there are ways for them to enjoy a full life and experience love.  On the other hand, she offers a conflictive and controversial alternative regarding quality over quantity that completely devalues human life.  

Me Before You Is Written from Multiple Perspectives

Some authors struggle to make a novel transition smoothly when they change points of view, but Moyes does the job masterfully.

The majority of the novel is from Louisa's first-person point of view, and we are never allowed into Will's psyche, but we also get to look at the story from the eyes of others, like Will's parents, Louisa's sister, and Will's healthcare aide.

Me Before You at Castle
Louisa shares a deep, dark secret with Will, and he helps her stop allowing the experience to define her.

One particular passage told by Will's mom will bring tears to the eyes of every parent.  You'll know it when you get to it, but it's about how a mom doesn't simply see the adult male her son has become and his current struggles.  She remembers, like yesterday, when he was an infant, a toddler, a student.  A parent remembers the history, and all the love she has invested from the beginning to the present day--so bittersweet.

Me Before You Is Simultaneously Wonderful & Tragic 

This book is written masterfully, with a well-developed plot, deep character development, and unpredictable twists.  It is well-researched and emotionally charged.  

When you crack the cover, you aren't some detached reader sitting in your favorite chair.  A hand reaches out from the pages and pulls you inside.  The world around you ceases to exist, and you feel the intensity of the emotion from each character.  You can't get up.  You are pinned to your seat and rush breathlessly through each chapter, desperate to reach the end to learn how things turn out--you can't stand not knowing, so you refuse to put the book down until you read the last word.

If you're accustomed to light romantic reading, be warned this book doesn't wrap up all the details in a nice bow.  It's complicated.  You find yourself loving it and hating it at the same time.  It's raw and may leave you feeling gutted. 

Louisa & Will on vacation in "Me Before You"
Louisa manages to take Will on an unforgettable vacation in paradise.

Since the events in this novel feel like they've happened in your own life, it takes 3-7 days to fully recover and let go before you start another book.  

Me Before You is intense and riveting. 

Based on author reviews, people either love or hate Jojo Moyes's style, but Me Before You makes one thing clear--Moyes is a master storyteller.

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