Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Me Before You

Me Before You
by Jojo Moyes
Penguin Books, 2013. 369 pgs.  Fiction

When the cafĂ© Louisa Clark works at closes suddenly, she is at a loss.  Without ambitions or any other work experience, Lou struggles to find a new job.  Will Traynor has spent most of his life as Lou’s total opposite – a driven, adventurous, and successful businessman – but a terrible accident has left him partially paralyzed and unwilling to live.  After being hired as his caregiver, Lou sets out to rekindle Will’s passion for life.

After seeing the trailer for the film adaptation coming out in June, I was excited to read Me Before You. It definitely delivered the charm I expected based on the trailer, but I was surprised by its complexity.  Lou was especially likable and well-developed as a character, and I enjoyed how gradually and believably her relationship with Will developed.  Although readers might immediately make comparisons with A Walk to Remember or The Fault in Our Stars, Me Before You struck me as being less sentimental and more complicated than those books.  It discusses ableism and personal choice insightfully (though not entirely unproblematically).  I’m still thinking about the book days afterwards and haven’t quite made up my mind about how I feel.  This is a book you need to talk about after reading, making it a good choice for book clubs that don't mind occasional strong language.



Liz said...

Me Before You is open of those sappy books that you love to read and love to hate. It doesn't leave you happy with all of the warm fuzzies because it brings up hard realities- permanent handicap disabilities, financial struggles, haunting of one's past, and love lost. I like the realistic components and the way you are drawn in to cheer for the characters' successes and growth. I could relate to Lou as she was struggling to find herself as a 26 year old and seeing her progress is very satisfying, albeit heartbreaking at the same time. This book will make you feel all the feelings, and you'll definitely cry. It's set in England and so there is some language and thematic elements that make this book better suited for adults. The film adaptation follows the book pretty close and is also good.

ACS said...

Complex is a good word for this book. While certain life decisions may seem black and white, this book got me thinking in shades of gray. When I finished reading, I took a moment to collect my thoughts, and then suddenly felt the need to discuss it. There were so many things I was mulling over, and just wanted someone to talk to about it. This is an easy recommendation for book clubs, but be aware that, as was mentioned, there is some strong language.

Breanne said...

I see mixed reviews for this book, and I think my feelings upon finishing are mixed as well. It's hard to read something that so obviously wrenches your feelings with dramatic circumstances, and to come away feeling that you've been genuinely moved rather than manipulated. Even Lou's sister, Trina, acknowledges the feelings that arise in the plot of the book come from a sort of forced intimacy. That said, I really appreciate that this book gave me something that I haven't gotten from a book for a long time: the compulsion to keep reading past the point of practicality. That can't-put-it-down feeling. It was almost a relief to feel sucked in by a story again, so I'm grateful for that. I also appreciate that there is a lot to discuss after reading this book, it would be a great book club pick. Overall, this is a worthwhile read, even if it does seem a bit contrived at times.