A Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
I'll admit that I missed the initial hype on this one. I actually didn't even hear about it until it had already been out several weeks and came across Brenna's nod. I found the novel to be a quick, enjoyable read that addressed some tough emotional and political issues.
When young Lou Clark loses her comfortable job as a barista in the cafe of the castle that is her town's largest attraction, she begins a desperate search to find something quickly. Her family, relying on her income to live, are a curious bunch that deem Lou the misfit, a lesser individual than her younger, and smarter, sister.When Lou realizes she doesn't have skills to perform many of the jobs available, she applies to be a caretaker to Will Traynor, a wealthy businessman turned quadriplegic in a motorbike accident. When Will attempts to exercise the only power he believes he has left, Lou must convince him that life is still worth living.
Moyes slowly reveals layers of each character to make the story believable and quite touching. Lou's character, in particular, moved me because she was obviously quite bright, yet so incredibly sheltered. When I grew bothered by her tendency to shrug things off before actually giving them thought, or her avoidance of confrontation despite the nagging in her gut, I understood that Lou wasn't exactly sure who she was, and was struggling with perceptions of herself from those around her. Will, on the other hand, is often caustic in his approach to meeting new people and wears his contempt outwardly. In the end, it's Lou's determination that makes the relationship a success, refusing to give up during Will's worst moments. Moyes provides vivid details of Will's daily life and the routines that allow him to live and breath, and definitely make his impudent actions comprehensible.
For such unassuming cover art, Me Before You really packs a punch. Will, the quintessential adventure man, has realized his worst fears. After the accident, he's left unable to care for himself in any capacity; moreover, he's lost his job, his fiancee, and the will to live. As Will and Lou work to get past the awkward and somewhat rude exchanges that make up their introduction, they eventually grow quite fond of one another. With Will's guidance, Lou recognizes her own potential and realizes there's a whole world waiting for her. However, she also understands that as she finds herself, Will is slowly sinking. Moyes sheds light on highly political issues, like assisted suicide, exhibiting the emotions his own family must face when accepting his fate, as well as the political and social repercussions that accompany the act. The title is a great example of fictional situations that really force readers to put themselves in these situations and contemplate their own decisions.
I highly recommend this title if you're looking for a well-written novel that's sure to stick with you long after you've finished.
I received a copy of this novel from Penguin Group Viking via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.