Title: Me Before You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Date Started: March 14, 2016 Date Finished: March 19, 2016
Rating (out of 5): ★★★
Every book has a story: Book blogger confession: I have started reading seven books in the new year without finishing any of them until now. I would make it to page thirty and be sick of the heroine already. Make it to page fifty with a shrug of my shoulders and a roll of my eyes. Having a library card was saving me serious book coin on all the books I was swiftly returning. I don’t know what happened. Sometimes I just go through juvenile periods of hating everything. This was a particularly prolonged spell even for me, though. I had been starting to feel like my basic human sympathy was broken. And then I saw the trailer for Me Before You, and it had me at the first arch of Sam Claflin’s eyebrow. I hovered around bookstores waiting for a copy to be in stock, and I started my new reading adventure with the small high that comes from buying a book (like having a cigarette as a reward for not smoking for two months). And what do you know–I made it past page fifty!
There are 158 footsteps between the bus stop and home, but it can stretch to 180 if you aren’t in a hurry, like maybe if you’re wearing platform shoes.
I’m not usually a contemporary literature type. There’s not enough swords. So I was as surprised as anyone to find that I, epic-fantasy-adventure-time addict that I am, veritably inhaled this book. Between Lou’s driving and infectious positivity and Will’s dark humour and strong soul, I was quite enamoured of this unlikely pair in their small English town.
Louise Clark is a twentysomething girl who has never really had a life outside her childhood home (where she still lives, mother, father, sister, nephew, granddad, and all), but that hasn’t stopped her from embracing what she has. Between the chaotic and the boring, she has become quite complacent with her lot in life until she loses her job and finds herself with only one opportunity that doesn’t involve handling chicken bits: working as a caregiver and companion for a quadriplegic from the upper class side of her town’s tracks–or castle, as the case may be.
Though she has no experience and low expectations, Lou is surprised to come face-to-face with her charge, Will Traynor, a young and handsome man with little enough patience for his injury, let alone hapless Lou. Of course, even Will can’t escape Lou’s sunny charm, and soon they become the most mismatched of confidants.
When the true nature of Lou’s position in Will’s life is revealed to her, she is determined not to fail. More importantly, she learns to redefine what failure might be, and to listen to what Will truly needs.
You can only actually help someone who wants to be helped.
For all her enthusiasm and even whimsy, I think what I like most about Lou is that her happiness is always a choice. It isn’t born of blind naïveté or sheltered small town life. It’s a choice that she seizes to spite the memory of a choice being taken away from her. In that way, she and Will have a lot more in common than they might initially believe.
Still, I was worried that all the enthusiasm was going to lead to a Disney ending. I was relieved when it didn’t. Yes, that meant it was painful, but it was right, and in a way it was the most loving and kind act of all.
Me Before You faces the darkness and the light in many an endearing way, and I enjoyed it through its many shades, particularly within the characters. It was such an uncommon read for me, and such an easy one, that I don’t quite know where this leaves me in my reading angst of late. At the very least, I suppose I can look forward to the movie.