Me Before You by Jojo Moyes should come with a note to the reader warning that this book should not be read in public. On the contrary, this beloved novel has been adapted into a movie, likely causing tears to flow in theaters across the country.
This review is a couple of years late to the game. Why? I purchased the book and have been looking at it in my Kindle queue for a couple of years now. I’ve been meaning to read it. I’ve wanted to read it. I just have a hard time starting a book that I know will make me cry. Perhaps I had to prepare my heart for this book. Actually, if “Me Before You” failed to evoke any tears it would have been because I thought the novel was emotionally manipulative. This, however, was not the case. The book manages to be sad without being too heavy or pathetic. I anticipated the ending, but it didn’t feel predictable or unsatisfying.
“Me Before You” tells the story of Louisa Clark, a young woman who begins working as a “care assistant” to Will Traynor, a man who has spent the past two years as a quadriplegic after an accident. Prior to needing 24-hour care due to his horrific injuries, Will was a business tycoon, adventure seeker, and wealthy Playboy. Contrary to Will’s big life, Louisa has lived a very small one. She still lives in her parents’ small house and was a waitress until the cafe she worked at closed. She has few marketable employment skills and although she has full use of her limbs, Louisa is emotionally paralyzed. Louisa’s family is in desperate need of money. She interviews for and accepts the job of being Will’s caretaker for six months. The timeframe is preset and finite, such as life.
The novel is (mostly) told from Louisa’s perspective. Part of why the character of Louisa is so charming is her simplicity. Therefore, it seems, Moyes made a conscious choice as the author to avoid making the novel’s language too lofty. Louisa is a normal woman with a normal voice and the novel reads as such.
So if you’ve been dancing around reading “Me Before You,” take a seat and give it a read. Just don’t sit in any seat for too long–live, just live.