*SUMMARY from Penguin:
Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that. What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.
“The thing about being catapulted into a whole new life – or at least shoved up so hard against someone else’s life that you might as well have your face pressed against their window – is that it forces you to rethink your idea of who you are. Or how you might seem to other people.”
If you have read my past book reviews, you would know by now that the following post might contain some spoilers. WARNING!! So stop now if you want to actually read the book for yourself. Okay I heard about this book a while back, I always meant to get it but as soon as I added it to my TBR list I guess it kind of got lost in the other books. But I finally downloaded it and of course did not start it right away, but luckily saw a friend review about it urged me to read it saying it was an amazing story. So of course I picked it up, and wow it did not disappoint me! I don’t often cry while reading books. I just sniffled on some books I’ve read but I find I very rarely have extreme emotional reactions while reading books. And yet, I cried while reading it.
There are books that you cannot put down. There are also books where you become so invested in the characters, you force yourself to stop reading to prolong the experience because you don’t want the story to end, and that’s what can happen when you read Jojo Moyes, “Me Before You.” The title doesn’t really give a clue about what the book is about. Also, I want to say that the cover does not do this book justice. The pink book cover gives off a sappy, chick-lit vibe when in reality this is a heartbreaking story. Me Before You is NOT a romance nor is it romantic, at least not in the traditional sense of the meaning despite what the blurbs on the silly front cover claim. It is however a very moving and thought provoking love story. How wrong can you be! Never judge a book by its cover is a lesson I am having difficulty learning.
This is the story of Will Traynor and Louisa (Lou) Clark. Will is a very successful businessman with a gorgeous girlfriend and the whole wide world at his feet. He lost all this when he got hit by a motorcycle and became a quadriplegic. Someone who is paralyzed from the neck down with some slight movement in his head and fingers. He became trapped inside his own ‘wheelchair’. He loses everything after his accident and has no reason to live anymore. He’s doesn’t want to be in pain. He wants an out of this miserable life. Until he meets her, Louisa Clark.
Lou is a twenty-seven year old who never got to really live. Afraid of life, she always stayed in her comfort zone and didn’t even leave the small town she grew up in. Desperate for the money to support her parents and her sister, she takes on a job as a carer. She never anticipated for Will to show her the beauty of life and give her new horizons.
When the two of them meet, they don’t start off that great. It has been two years since Will’s accident, trapped inside his own body, feeling claustrophobic every second of the day; he just wants to end it all. After a failed suicide attempt, his mother finally concedes in helping him end his life in a clinic that specializes in euthanasia. All his mother wants is six more months with him and he decides to give her just that. His mother hires Lou to keep him company for those six months. He can’t help but answer every single one of Lou’s questions in a sarcastic manner. This strangely brought a smile on my face, because some of his comments were just damn funny. Slowly they start getting used to each other and they even start liking each other.
That is until she finds out Will’s plan to commit suicide and makes it her life mission to everything it takes to change his mind. A life with day to day struggles but a life worth living nonetheless. Together they teach each other that life is to vulnerable to waste. She decides to give him a reason to live and to show him that life can be good.
What happens in this six month time period is the heart of this story. It is about two families and how they deal with what life has dealt them. It is about choices and being allowed to choose. It is about awakening and discovering life and all there is to take from it and not be afraid to really love and live.
Me Before You, broke my heart. In fact, I only just finished the book at 1am this morning – but I swear, this book really hits you in the heart. This is a book that has you hooked from the first page and just won’t let you go. The first few chapters of this book seemed so disappointingly predictable. While reading this first chapter, I was certain I had this book pegged right up until the very end. On top of that, this novel is about a subject that makes me very uncomfortable: assisted suicide.
However, I kept reading, and was rewarded. First of all, the novel engages in from more details of quadriplegic life. The constant pain and infections, the medical risks, and the innumerable tests and medications and procedures and equipment that are (and will always be) required maintaining the bare minimum standard of life for Will.
Soon enough you will find yourself getting rather emotionally invested in the lives of your two new favorite characters, Lou and Will. Seriously, you will! Or at least I did. The characters are so interesting and I liked them so much I had to know what was going to happen next. I mean it, I had so many questions swirling around in my head: Would Lou blossom into a more confident and self-assured woman? What happened to her in the maze? Would Will decide to forgo the plans he had made in Switzerland? What types of adventures would Lou take Will on? And, how long would it take for them both to realize how in love they were with one another? This isn’t an extraordinary book or one that captivated me with its poetic language; it’s just a very good story about a man and a woman and how they affected each others’ lives.
Me Before You is such an amazing, tear-jerker book. It will have you thinking about life, love, death, and everything in between. It sounds like a cliché to say things like ‘I couldn’t put it down’ and ‘it made me laugh and cry’ but this book truly did both. And, you will be left with a sadness that will inspire you step back and take a look at your own life. It also pushed me to recognize the ways in which I’ve become rather satisfied within my own life. I urge you to pick up this book as your first read – you won’t be disappointed.
I connected with Lou and Will on such a deep level that by the end of the book. I very much believe in love and sacrifice and to read a book that handles that kind of emotion with such intensity and yet such tenderness truly softens my heart. I cried at many points whilst reading and I literally sobbed my heart out at the end. This book was and IS worth it.
The characters begin as likeable, yet maddeningly realistic in all their egocentricities. As their fears and insights are exposed, they develop in strength and purpose to reveal rich individuals who are all irreversibly changed through the events which unfold. I enjoyed the first person POV, and the odd change in character thrown in stirred the narrative nicely for me. Even though the book is written in first person (from Lou’s perspective), there are four chapters written from four other characters’ perspectives and yes, it works here. The author clearly informs the reader that a different character is narrating this chapter and seeing the situation as viewed by another character added to my overall understanding of Lou and Will and their relationship. I would have liked to have had at least a chapter from Will’s perspective. I was really glad to have read Will’s letter though!
The plot is relatively simple yet not complicated for all that it raises some ethical questions. How can you read this and not ask yourself what you might do in similar circumstances, how you would feel if it was your friend or loved one?
I cannot tell you how much this story touched me. And yet, it moved me, really moved me. When an author can invoke a readers emotions, someone who can make you feel genuinely sad when the characters are sad and make you feel genuinely happy when the characters are happy. It’s just an amazing feeling so thank you Ms. Moyes. It dealt with so many different issues and was so thought-provoking. Every character had a story of its own. It wasn’t just Lou and Will. It was everything and nothing. It was life. The good and the bad.
“Some mistakes…just have greater consequences than others. But you don’t have to let that night be the thing that defines you.”
It really is extraordinary, and it will make you cry. I cried my eyes out. I not only cried but laughed, smiled, and learned things I didn’t know before. It taught me a better understanding of being grateful of what I do have. This is a story about life and love. It’s about being alive, but not living. When your body can’t do what your mind is screaming for, how do you cope? Will love be enough to ignore the pain you feel every day?
“Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle. Wear those stripy legs with pride.”
“Just live well.Just live.”
I loved this book. It’s sweet and funny and sad and deceptively simple. The friendship and romance between Will and Lou is bittersweet. The writing is beautifully written, smooth and effortless and yet the result is a story which is invested with so much emotion, with such sensitivity, that I can’t help but still be a little bit in love with this book. And yet, the ending broke me into a million pieces.
I highly recommend it. It’s not for everyone, and some people may hate the way the book ends, but I thought it was well-written and heartwarming. Moyes gives us a story that has a deep, emotional plot and shares it in a way that at times made me laugh and smile, and frown and sob. Equally. The story itself is so amazingly told and the characters will pull you in from page one.
There is so much I could say, but I know I would simply ramble on and on about how wonderfully written this book is, how the characters affected me, how the story broke my heart. Life is what you make of it, and I realized that I need to start making more of it. I suppose I should send Moyes’ my thank you for this book, because not only did it touch me, it also inspired me. I smiled, I laughed and I cried buckets of joyful and heart wrenching tears. But the tears were worth it.
I’m going to be leaving things right here for all those of you who haven’t read this story yet. I don’t want to ruin anything or take away from the story. So, all I am going to say is that you must read this novel – I promise you will not be disappointed! Read it with a big mug of tea and a box of tissues. :’)