Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Series: Me Before You #1 (1/2)
Published by Viking on December 31, 2012
Genres: [Adult] Contemporary, Chick Lit, Romance
Format: Audiobook –> Paperback
Source: Audible –> Purchased
4 Stars, Completed January 21, 2016
– to avoid major SPOILERS read bold text only –
Spending my last day as a teenager crying in the corner as I finished this wasn’t quite ideal. I was sporting the unbelievably puffy panda eyes look on my 20th birthday (which proved to not be that photogenic). But, more importantly, I hadn’t anticipated that I’d become a volunteer publicist for Me Before You. This happened because I was trying to explain to people the cause of my late night distress as well as convince them to read this moving story. Nevertheless, I am so glad I chose to read this British novel because beyond the emotional ride was a touching and enlightening story.
“You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”
Lou Clark has led an ordinary and uneventful life until the moment she loses her job at the tea shop. From there, she seeks new work and she stumbles upon the opportunity of taking care of young, handsome and successful Will Traynor, who has become a quadriplegic after a recent motorcycle accident. Little does she know that this job, though sometimes unpleasant but often times rewarding, will forever change her view on life and how she plans to live it.
Before I get into the review I thought I’d include this: I highly suggest readers that haven’t read Me Before You to not read the synopsis (or too many reviews) and go into the story knowing absolutely nothing as I did. (And, for sure do not watch the film’s trailer because it leaves little for the viewers’ imaginations.) I think readers are able to get a greater emotional payoff this way-also it’s so easy to get spoiled for this book.
Alrighty then, now with that to the side onwards with the real review. Even after having nearly half a year since reading this story to prepare my jumbled thoughts into words, I’m still not even certain how I should even start. Me Before You is incredibly difficult to review for so many reasons: there’s so much depth and complexity behind the initial fluff, the subject matter and messages Moye suggests are controversial, and the fact that I didn’t seem to feel as strongly as others about this book made it a slight disappointment for me.
A part of me couldn’t fully love this book because the story is very predictable. Yet, I admit that there was some beauty to this flaw in that Moyes pulls through and goes with the “slap in the face” ending instead of the alternative: appeasing readers and overturning what they think will happen by painting a miraculous but contrived happily ever after resolution. I am thankful that Moyes chose to stay true to her initial resolve even if it did make a predictable story. So reminding myself of the possible alternative loosened my contempt for the predictability element.
The other two things that bothered me more than the predictability were the pointless use of Patrick’s annoying character and the somewhat obscure message Moyes attempts to convey. Patrick’s character irritated me to no end and I never could identify why he was necessary in the plot or story. Was he supposed to be one of the many anchors that has kept Lou in her hometown? I will never know, I suppose.
As for the themes that Moyes paint with Me Before You… As I read the novel it became increasingly a challenge to pinpoint exactly the message Moyes want readers to grab. At times I understood it as “YOLO, so live life to your fullest,” other times my theories were more depressing. And I noticed that some other readers and reviewers have expressed that Moyes is suggesting that life isn’t worth living if you’re handicapped. And in some moments of the book, it appears they’re not wrong with that conjecture. I guess it’s really left for the readers to interpret what Moyes truly is trying to say, which could possibly be a good or bad thing depending on the reader. For me, I was leaning towards the latter.
Me Before You is important and moving, but for the reasons I stated above isn’t exceptional enough for me to add to my all time favorites shelf.
…I told him a story of two people. Two people who shouldn’t have met, and who didn’t like each other much when they did, but who found they were the only two people in the world who could possibly have understood each other.
However, I cannot argue that Me Before You has one of the most heartfelt relationships and dearest love stories I’ve ever read. The friendship between bitter and sarcastic Will and slightly irritating but optimistic Lou creeps up slow. And their romance is one of the most perfectly executed slowburns. I really believed and loved the growth towards their companionship (first beginning with a rocky start then evolving into a lovely friendship, and lastly ending with a bittersweet goodbye to a short-lived romantic relationship).
And, needless to say, I cried. In fact, my exact words when I wrote my mini review after I had initially just finished this book was: “After everyone’s warnings I told myself I wouldn’t cry and I did a pretty good job. I didn’t shed a single tear but then the ending kind of happened. I was bracing myself for the predictable event but it was still a slap in the face nonetheless.” Even though I knew how Me Before You would ultimately end, the conclusion was still momentous enough to evoke a surge of emotions from me.
The thing about being catapulted into a whole new life–or at least, shoved up so hard against someone else’s life that you might as well have your face pressed against their window–is that it forces you to rethink your idea of who you are. Or how you might seem to other people.
Though Will may be the center of the story (at least for me) and death may be one of the bigger focuses at times, readers never forget that this is a story of the exploration of one’s self and identity as well. And it’s a story that reminds readers that one should never settle for less. Me Before You isn’t the typical contemporary read. It surprised me in many pleasant ways with what it taught and reminded me. This is a thought provoking read I’d highly recommend to those looking for an unconventional, bittersweet romance.
And will I be reading After You, the sequel? Most likely not. I want to hold and cherish this story as how it concluded in Me Before You. (And, oh gosh, I’m going to see this movie this approaching weekend with some non-reader friends and I’m anticipating the tears. I’m definitely bringing a packet-or box-of tissues along.)