Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Louisa Clark leads a calm and simple (perhaps even boring) life in her village. She has a job in a cafe, she lives with her parents, and she has a boyfriend, Patrick, who is predictable, even if she might not actually love him. But one day, Louisa's life is turned upside down when she arrives at work and finds out the cafe is closing. Forced into the world of unemployment, Lou eventually ends up as a caregiver for the Traynor family -- specifically Will, a quadriplegic, a once active and passionate man whose life was changed irrevocably by an accident. Confined to a wheelchair, unable to move most of his limbs, and in great pain many days, Will's life is nothing like it was before. However, when Lou arrives in his world, she brings a bit of joy and fun to his otherwise bland days. However, neither of them realize how much they will change and affect each others' lives.
This was an interesting book, for sure. I'd avoided it for a while, hearing how sad it was, and frankly, I have enough of that in my life. But it eventually came up in my library queue, and I decided to give it a shot, basically because I'd read Moye's "One Plus One" and really loved it. I will try not to reveal much of the plot, for those who may not have read anything about it. However, I'll say the book touches on timely topics such as assisted suicide. Should Will be confined to his chair for the rest of life, living half a life, much of it in pain? What role should his family play in his life, and in his decisions? And how much responsibility does he owe his family and those who care for him? All deep questions, for sure.
The book is enjoyable purely on the strength of Lou's character. Just like "One Plus One," Moyes has an uncanny ability to create a main character whom you start to inhabit, love, and root for - quirks, frustrations, and flaws included. Lou is real and you can't help but like her. It's a fast read, as well - I tore through it in less than two days. There's a sequel out now, and I'm a little sad that I just put it on hold at the library, and I'll have to wait a while to find out what happens - but perhaps that's for the best.
Anyway, I was definitely drawn in by Lou's voice. A lot of her character and situation hit home, in a weird sort of way - her being trapped in her life by fear and an inability to get out beyond the confines of the life she'd created for herself. Her relationship with Will is a fascinating one, for sure. The ending of the book is tough, and without spoiling anything, leaves you feeling a bit deflated. I felt a lot of complicated emotions about it all, which I suppose is the sign of a good book, but kept me from pushing it up to a full 4-star review. Still, a mesmerizing read.
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