Review Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Synopsis: Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn't know is she's about to lose her job or that knowing what's coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he's going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn't know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they're going to change the other for all time.
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Genres: Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Chick Lit, Romance
“You only get one life. It's actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”
Three words: read this book.
I don't think there are proper words to conjure exactly what I felt while reading Me Before You. It's that sensation when you're crying with big fat ugly tears and someone makes you laugh and then you cry harder. It's that awful feeling that something bad is approaching, yet you take pleasure in the precious moments before the imminent collision. It's that overwhelming tendency to close the damn book and save yourself a load of sobbing, but coupled with an obsessive need to see how it all ends. Me Before You temporarily messed up my life and I'm eternally grateful for it.
Meet Lou Clark, twenty-six-years old unemployed small town girl content with her simple existence. She's got to be one of the most lovable characters I've ever encountered. Witty, humble and determined, she's got some spunk in her, although she's not frontpage material for a successful life. A bit childish on the edges, enough to paint her in a cute light, Lou resembled a beautiful, rare bird trapped in a gilded cage without her knowing it. But one six-month job contract as a carer for a quadriplegic changes the way she views the world.
“I know this isn’t a conventional love story. I know there are all sorts of reasons I shouldn’t even be saying what I am. But I love you. I do.”
Meet Will Traynor, a 35 year old intelligent, funny and rich English man. He also happens to be confined to a wheelchair since a motorcycle accident shattered his life two years ago. Some might argue that he's weak, but I beg to differ. The strength with which he continued to stubbornly make sarcastic jokes, cultural inquiries and sometimes behave like a gentleman was astounding. If I were him, I would've cried 24/7 and succumbed to a bottomless depression.
Because, you see, he cannot move his arms nor legs. He's stuck in that chair and everybody but himself is making decisions regarding his future, because he's been stripped bare of free-will by that fateful accident. He loved nature and skiing and swimming and running and climbing and everything in between and he's suddenly not able to do those anymore. He was CEO at a powerful company, calling the shots, having a beautiful girlfriend and friends. And now Will Traynor is living his own version of hell, by masking those crushed dreams of freedom and hopeless despair with mood swings and funny comebacks, always in the shadow of possible infection and constantly having to bare incredible pain. Life, as the utter bitch she can be, slowly and ironically drained him of life.
“I just … want to be a man who has been to a concert with a girl in a red dress. Just for a few minutes more.”
The relationship between these two characters was baby-steps based. There was hatred and mutual contempt. Then there was a sweet, heartwarming friendship. And finally there was such a delicate, bittersweet romance. But this development wasn't actually the thing that mattered the most. That one was the individual development they triggered in each other. Lou ensured Will an unexpected amount of happiness and joy, but Will spread her wings and taught her how to fly. He inspired her dreams, he became that push for extraordinary that no one else imprinted and he became a role model. From books and movies, to more in depth topics as career and life itself, Will opened her eyes to a whole other bunch of infinite possibilities and the process was oh so beautiful and magical.
“You are scored on my heart, Clark”
I need to mention some secondary characters, but only those that deserve recognition. Lou's family was a marvelous example of simplicity, but they were bursting with life. I loved the dynamics, the utter understanding and the glorious support everyone offered each other. They're by no means the perfect family, but they love each other unconditionally and that's what makes them remarkable. Katrina was a pleasant surprise, their Mother was pretty much the adorable mother-hen and their father was the absolute best thing ever. Seriously, that man has to win "Best Fictional Dad" immediately.
“Jesus Christ,’ said my father. ‘Can you imagine? If it wasn’t punishment enough ending up in a ruddy wheelchair, then you get our Lou turning up to keep you company.”
Nathan was another glorious character that delivered some much-needed realism (although sometimes crushing) into Lou's idealist ideas. I'm glad they developed a friendship, but that they also united fronts for Will's well-being.
Camilla Traynor was another favorite of mine. I can't imagine how painful it must be to see your child live this tragic attempt at life. I'm not saying that her cold demeanor is truly okay, but I'm also not blaming her for coping in her own way. There was one scene in particular (the one at the airport for those who've read the book) that broke my heart for her. Add it to the chapter where the author granted us insight into her thoughts and you can basically call me her fan. She's polite, posh and unreadable, but in the end she's only a suffering mother.
The end of this book gutted me. I was expecting it from miles away, but it sure didn't lessen the overall impact. Tears pretty much made themselves at home on my cheeks, but I was surprisingly content. I understood why everything happened the way it did, I understood the reasons that drove our characters. That didn't deter me from coursing the unfairness of life and how it could be a total bitch, of course. Long story short, besides of a (realistic) miracle that is currently impossible, this ending, although bittersweet, was the best way to give this story closure. I haven't read other reviews yet so I don't know if the masses have the same opinion, but I admire Jojo Moyes for having the guts to write such a realistic, powerful and deeply touching ending.
“Be with me. Give me the end I'm hoping for.”
Me Before You is the perfect read for a rainy summer day. This book is so sad, yet so full of life. Uplifting and soul-wrenching at the same time, I consider its message, its very essence, the most important aspect of the novel: that life is great as long as you get to live it on your own terms and that, at the end of the day, it's okay to put your own happiness on the first place. It's okay to put yourself before others. And for that lesson, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, Will Traynor.
Now everyone go read this book so that we can gush over how Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke are the perfect choices for the movie cast. *cue endless sobbing*
“Push yourself. Don't Settle. Just live well. Just LIVE.”