3 January 2012
Book Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
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.
I read my first Jojo Moyes novel last year, The Last Letter From Your Lover, and thought it was absolutely fantastic and stunning book. Therefore when I found out Jojo Moyes had another book coming out this year, complete with a gorgeously stunning cover, I was so excited to read it and thrilled when I received a big proof copy to review. As soon as I could, I started to read the book and found myself utterly hooked into the lives of Lou Clark and Will Traynor. I shed tears with the characters, felt both the pain of Will and Lou and even now, a few weeks after finishing it, I can't stop thinking about it and I know it's one of the best and most moving novels I have ever read. Before I review any further, I just want to say that you MUST read this book. It's stunning.
Even though the blurb on the book cover contains no real spoilers about the story between Lou and Will, I am going to speak about the issue between them as it's too hard to review it without being able to discuss the topics, and I don't think it's a major spoiler to mention them at all. Lou is someone who potters along in life, and is happy with her job at a cafe as it helps to pay her parents bills. However, when that unexpectedly comes to an end, she finds herself applying for a job as Will Traynor's carer. Will is a quadraplegic, unable to move anything below his neck after an accident. He hates life being stuck in a chair, he hates being looked after by nurse Nathan, and now Lou too. However, Will has made a decision. He wants to end his life at an assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland. And Lou has just 6 months to make him change his mind and want to live life.
Now, you might be reading this thinking that it sounds really depressing, and not a topic you would want to read about but believe it, it's a very uplifting and positive look at what is a controversial topic that everyone will have formed their own opinions on prior to reading this book. However, what really got me is the way Moyes has written this book, mainly from Lou's perspective and her determination to make Will want to stay alive despite his circumstances, but also you can feel Will's pain as well, his hatred of being stuck in a wheelchair and his hatred of the way people treat him because of it. It actually made me think about how we perceive people in Will's circumstances, and how damaging it can be when we act wrongly towards them. Will is a man cut down in the prime of his life, and you can understand his despair at being reliant on others and wanting to make it all stop once and for all. Moyes manages to cover the topic of the rights of disabled people to choose how to run their lives sensitively, and I found myself torn between siding with both Lou and Will as the book progressed.
This book is incredibly moving, and I often found myself tearing up at things that happen throughout the book. Lou is an amazing character, determined to make Will's life as good as she possibly can, and goes way beyong the call of duty to help him out. The verbal sparring between the pair throughout the book is fantastic, and certainly lightens the mood a lot as it is funny to read, especially as the book goes on and the pair become fonder of each other. However, it was quite hard to read the more practical aspects of Will's care at times, and it really does make you think about what it must be like to be in his position, and how hard it must be to live your life like that, knowing it isn't going to get any better. I loved Will though, and although I thought I knew what was coming at the end, I didn't want it to and didn't want the book to end simply because I was so involved in the world created by Moyes and didn't want it to end.
This is a very bitter sweet book about a hard-hitting topic yet it still manages to make you smile, and certainly think about issues many of us will (luckily) not have to deal with in our lifetimes. Moyes has brought to us a pair of characters that will stay with me for a long time, and I think Will may be my favourite male character of all time in Chick Lit, he's brilliant, and certainly very inspirational. There are hard-hitting descriptions of Will's life and care, mixed in with Lou's (sometimes hopeless) attempts at making his life better, and the irony that although Will's family are very well off financially, no amount of money can heal their son and make them all happy once more... money can't buy you everything. With a superb cast, a thought-provoking topic and a storyline that will surely stay around in your head long after you've finished it, Me Before You is one of the best books I have ever had the fortune to read, and I really can't recommend it highly enough. You are missing out if you don't read this. Amazing.
Publisher: Michael Joseph
You can buy Me Before You in paperback or as an eBook now. (Links go to Amazon.co.uk)