Title: Me Before You
Author: Jojo Moyes
No. of Pages: 384
Origins: Mine. All mine.
Release Date: 31 December 2012
Bottom Line: The best book I read in all of 2013
“Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.
Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.
A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?”
Thoughts: There are some books that strike a chord with a reader for some unknown reason. Perhaps it is the reader’s frame of mind; perhaps it is something that is occurring in the reader’s life that resonates with the plot of the story. Other times, it is nothing more than the right book at the right time, reasons be damned. For me, Me Before You was such a book.
Me Before You is a beautiful book. Lou is one of the best heroines created in a long time. She is vibrant, creative, and strong but so vulnerable and lost. Will may be prickly, but his reasons for being so are completely justified. His accident was horrific, but his life after his accident is the epitome of tragic. Then again, so is Lou’s once one discovers her secret past. Their story together is exceedingly emotional, and one expects plenty of tears.
However, for me, Me Before You did not just cause tears; it caused floods of them – huge wracking sobs that lasted a good ten to fifteen minutes AFTER I finished the book. It took me an hour after finishing the book to settle down enough to move on to something else. Gut-wrenching is not an adequate adjective to describe just how much this book ripped me apart. Yet, I cannot tell you why. Yes, it is sad and what happens is beyond comprehension to some extent. However, why this story affected me more than any other tearjerker read over the years, I have no clue. All I know is that I typically do not cry over books. I may shed a tear or two or get choked up for a bit but never for long and never once the book ends. Me Before You was a surprise, not only for its heart-wrenching story about love and loss, personal choices, and the cost of letting go, but also because of the atypical, violent emotional response it caused within me.
Even now, I find myself dwelling on the issues brought to light by Will’s and Lou’s choices, questioning whether I would have the strength to respect my own son’s wishes like that or if I too would fight with every weapon in my arsenal. Would I feel the same way if I were in Will’s position? What if it was my own husband? I know how he feels about being reliant on others and the entire right-to-die argument, so could I stand by as he makes his own decision? The questions continue to ping around my brain as I struggle to put into context everything Will and Lou experience.
All I can say for certain is that the combination of some of the sweetest prose written, characters that played on my every emotional chord while remaining utterly real, and a storyline that haunts and pokes and tests readers left me absolutely devastated, a dried-out husk of my former shelf. It is one of those rare and unforgettable books that will forever change me in both large and minute ways, whether it is a greater comfort in wearing what I want without catering to convention or a greater insight into how to act around people with disabilities. For me, Me Before You is without a doubt the best book I read in 2013 if not the last five years and will easily make the top 5 list of all-time favorite books. Just don’t ask me to explain in detail why.