Book Reviews

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Sometimes I don’t get around to writing about a book very quickly after I read it and then, a month or two later, I’m so fuzzy on the details (and the copy of the book has gone back to the library) that writing a post would basically be copying and pasting the publisher blurb.

But Me Before You, which I read 10 months ago, is still sharp and clear in my mind.

And since I put it on my Top 10 Books for 2013 list, I figured I should write about it in a little more detail.

Will Traynor was a hot-shot businessman, and, lucky him, also good-looking, adventurous, and filled with love for life.

Until he got hit by a car in a freak-accident and is left a quadriplegic.

Louisa Clark lives with her parents in a tiny village outside of London, living the quietest of lives. When she loses her job at a little tea shop, she’s forced to take whatever job is available, which, it happens, is a six month care-taking position.

She’s not at all keen on the idea, but the pay is too good to turn down and in this tiny town, there really are very few other options. She assumes it’ll be some old person she’ll be caring for.

But, of course, it’s not. It’s Will. Who’s about her same age, and deeply unhappy. He’s moody and sharp and not particularly pleasant to be around (that’s an understatement).

Louisa, though, decides she doesn’t care. She’ll do her job and if he wants to be a complete jerk to her, well, whatever. She’ll take her fat paycheck and in six months, she’ll be done.

You can guess it doesn’t go like that.

They slowly warm up to each other, but when Louisa discovers that the reason her contract is for six month is because Will isn’t sure he wants to keep on living as a quadriplegic, she is first horrified and then determined to show him that, even in a wheelchair, life is still worth living.

But Will, who lived a huge life, full of extreme sports, big business deals, and travel, isn’t convinced. And he’s REALLY not convinced by Louisa who has spent her whole life doing. . .basically nothing.

He can’t understand why, when she has all the abilities he’s lost, she spends it sleeping in the same room she grew up in, dating the world’s most dull guy, and he’s quick to point out, taking care of a guy in a wheelchair. It’s not exactly a life to write home about (not that she’s even away from home. . . ).

And as they start to get close to each other, he’s extremely uncomfortable with the idea of burdening her with his problems.

Their relationship unfolds beautifully, and the dialogue especially is top-notch. It’s funny and clever and realistic and I loved both of these characters. The book is fairly long (close to 400 pages) and it was a delight to see the story develop. And I just couldn’t tell how the book was going to end. What would they both decide to do with their lives?

To be honest, the real reason I haven’t written about this book is because of the ending. In a book like this, dealing with some weighty moral dilemmas, it can be hard for me to recommend, because they are sensitive topics and people have opinions on every place on the spectrum. (And, note that, like many of the British chick-lit writers I love, like Sophie Kinsella, there’s a bit of swearing and sex).

But, I loved this book. I thought it was nicely written, fun to read, well-paced, and one I couldn’t stop thinking about. If you read it (or have read it!), I’m dying to talk to someone about it. And after writing this, I went and requested it from the library again so I can re-read it. It was just so engaging. I raced through it the first time in about a day and a half. Probably neglected my children for that day and a half.

(By the way, I’ve read two of her other books, The Last Letter from Your Lover and The Girl You Left Behind and this one is by far the best. Although The Girl You Left Behind, which follows two couples, one during WWII and one in modern times, both linked by a painting, is quite good).

Copy checked out from my library

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  • Reply Stephanie @ The Good Stuff January 9, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    I read this book awhile back and I enjoyed it too. I think one of the very interesting things about this story is the balance it has between being more of a fun light-hearted chic-lit read, but at the same time tackling some pretty dark topics. It's a unique and engaging read, for sure.

  • Reply RA January 9, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    I really, really must read this book.

  • Reply Tina's Blog January 9, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    I loved, loved, loved this book. I just couldn't believe how incredibly sad I was by the ending.

  • Reply Chrissie January 9, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    I've heard about this book in the past, but you just got me to add it to my to-read list. Thanks!

  • Reply ellen January 9, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Just requested it from the library; it sounds like a good book. Thanks!

  • Reply Melanie January 9, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    I read this book in a day or so. I couldn't put it down because I was too curious to see what was going to happen. But despite that, I really didn't love it…and I seem to be in the minority with that opinion. Also, I've completely forgotten how it ended.

  • Reply Michelle January 9, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    I think my biggest personal flaw is an intolerance for people (real or fictional) who think or act differently than I would (or think I should). So it's fairly common for me to love a book for 300 pages and then finish it and think "how could they! How awful!"

    But I loved this book, and the more I think about it the more I realize it couldn't have ended differently – I just wouldn't have bought a "and they all lived happily ever after."

    Perhaps my reading resolution for the year should be accepting that different people are different, and that's okay.

  • Reply Kathleen January 9, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    I've seen this book recommended a lot, but everyone talks about how much they cry in it and how sad it makes them. I really want to read it, but I don't want to be depressed or sad. What are your thoughts on that?

  • Reply Allie @ Everyday Adventures January 9, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    This one is on my to-read list, I've heard so many people raving about it that I figured I HAD to. Plus, I've heard it might be turned into a movie?

  • Reply Kayla FrecklesinApril January 9, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Adding to my holds list right NOW.

  • Reply Jennie January 9, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    It was one of my favorite books of the year as well. What I loved so much about it, is that I also didn't know how it would end, eager to get to the end to find out (sobbing along the way) and then when it ended, I exhaled because, of course. That's how it was meant to be for those particular characters. It felt like I knew the ending all along after I read it.

  • Reply missris January 9, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    I read this book on the airplane yesterday (the whole thing!) and it was so, so good. And sad. I was the goofball crying into my airplane napkin. But it was so good.

  • Reply Holly Hoffman Spears January 9, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    It WAS a great book!

    I actually liked Girl You Left Behind better.

    How as Last Letter? I'm considering it next…

  • Reply Nina B January 9, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    I read this book awhile ago. I couldn't put it down and I definitely cried. Even though I felt it was pretty predictable, it was moving.

  • Reply Shalini January 10, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    I read it and I liked it, and it broke my heart. I was really angry with the male character's decisions, though. I get his selfishness but GAH.

  • Reply Meredith January 10, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    I read this book and felt like I had to talk to someone about it but no one had read it! Coming from a life is sacred no matter what upbringing it was really interesting and perplexing to read this. I am still in fact perplexed with the entire thing.

  • Reply danielle January 13, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    This book broke my heart! In the very best way.

  • Reply Meg February 16, 2014 at 4:59 am

    Just got this book from my library. Can't wait!

  • Reply Laura H February 17, 2014 at 12:52 am

    I finally got this book from the library. (Hold list was huge)Excellent book! Thank you for the recommend

  • Reply SharingMommyMoments April 11, 2015 at 12:57 am

    Just finished reading this book, I'm shocked. I much prefer happily ever afters. I'm left feeling wronged.

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