Book Review: "Me Before You" by Jojo Moyes
When I finished this novel, I sat there thinking for ten minutes. This is the type of book that makes you reflect on life once you’re done. I love books that make you think or appreciate life, so overall, I enjoyed this book. However, I don’t necessarily think the hype is warranted.
Me Before You is about an average girl, Louisa Clark, who lands a job as a caretaker for Will Traynor, a wealthy and temperamental man who was paralyzed after being hit by the motorcycle. Louisa has no medical training; in fact, Will already has a nurse who takes care of his medical needs. However, Will’s mother, Camilla, hires Louisa hoping that she may be able to lift his spirits. At first, he is rude and unforgiving. Louisa sticks with the job only because she truly needs the money. Louisa has never explored outside her town, and seems like a girl with no real goals or dreams. On the other hand, Will led a lavish, exciting life before his accident. Throughout the book, Louisa learns to live and explore the world around her, and Will finally finds someone who does not treat him with kid gloves. Eventually, Louisa finds out that Will is planning on ending his life. Louisa does everything in her power to try to save his life, and in the process, she learns about herself, life, and true love.
The book has been on The New York Times "Best Sellers" list for quite some time now, and has gotten rave reviews. There is even a movie based on the book in theaters, which I actually watched first. I loved the movie and it made me bawl, so needless to say, I had high expectations for the book. But, honestly? Even though I did enjoy it overall, I didn’t think the book was as good as people said. I was disappointed with the first half of the book. In the beginning, I didn't think Jojo Moyes did justice in conveying the proper emotions. Additionally, none of the characters really seemed very likeable in the first half of the book. It felt as though Louisa was a grown woman without any goals, living a sheltered life, and I wanted to yell at her. I suppose Will felt the same way, because he did the job for me. The second half of the book was better for sure, once Louisa started expanding her horizons and the main focus became Louisa trying to convince Will to live. I definitely shed a tear or two, but I wish Moyes would have done a better job with the characterization, as to make the main character more likeable from the beginning.
There has been some controversy over this book because some claim that the book is saying those who are disabled have no reason to live. I think those critics are missing the point. Of course being disabled doesn't mean you have no reason to live. But for someone like Will, who was a powerful businessman living an extravagant and adrenaline-filled life, to lose the ability to even go to the bathroom or sleep without help is humiliating. Not to mention that there was no hope of him getting better. The only thing he was able to control in his life was whether he lived, and he chose to exercise that right.