Me Before You by JoJo Moyes is just one of those books that hit you in the gut. Hard. I knew what the book was about before I started reading, but I was not really expecting what actually happened.
2 years before the novel begins, a man named Will Traynor, active and at the top of his game, suffers a life-altering accident. The accidents leaves Will confined to a wheelchair and forces him to rely on others for the rest of his life as a quadriplegic. He cannot move, save for his head and some minor movement in his arm on occasion.
At the outset of the novel, 26-year-old Louisa Clark is searching for a new job after the café she worked at closes. After a visit to the local Job Centre, Will Traynor’s mother employs her on a six-month contract to help take care of her beloved son. She is meant to be a caring companion—Nathan, Will’s other carer, would take care of the complex medical nature of Will’s care.
Lou consistently finds life difficult with Will when she begins her job caring for him. He is a grumpy man and consistently snaps at her. In any case, she pushes herself to stay at the job as her family is in desperate need of money. When he wants her to leave him alone, Lou finds herself cleaning the house. She begins to notice the utter falsity of life in the Traynor house. Life for Lou at home isn’t easy either. Her family relies on her, but she is still disrespected on a regular basis. She comes to understand that she may not really love her boyfriend Patrick. Then one day, after she has finally gotten her footing at her job and is friendly with Will, news about him overturns her entire world. She finally understands why Mrs. Traynor hired her above all the other candidates. Despite her initial desire to leave her job because of the gravity of the situation, the scars she sees, Lou stays. She is filled with a desire to change the mind of who could very well be the most stubborn man in the world in a seemingly impossible situation.
Me Before You isn’t fantasy or science fiction. But it is still extraordinary and heart-wrenching in perhaps one of the most human ways possible. JoJo Moyes’ work reminds me in many ways of Jodi Picoult. JoJo Moyes wrestles with one of the hardest moral questions in her novel. She forces you to question what you would do in a seemingly impossible situation. Would you decision change depending on what side of the equation you fell on?
I read countless books. More often than not, they are just okay. They are nothing particularly special, but they are not terrible either. Then, there are books like Me Before You. It has only been a few days, but I know that his one is something that will come back again, especially with the movie coming out in 2016. While reading, I thought about what I would do if I were Louisa, Will’s family, or Will. I could clearly see where every single person was coming from in the novel, something that I sometimes find difficult while reading. But even knowing where every character was coming from, I don’t know that I could definitively say what I would do in any of their positions. What I do know? If I were Louisa? Regardless of my final reaction, even if it differed from hers, my heart would never be the same again.
I would highly recommend giving this a read. If you do choose to read it, I would like to know if you agree with my final thought about this novel: There is no way I could say what I would do in this situation unless I were actually in it.
Let me know what you think about this novel. Did you enjoy it? Do you believe that it will stay with you?