Wow, after the most hectic start to a year ever, in which I got myself a brand new job in trade children’s publishing, and moving yet again to a whole new town, I’ve finally found the time to write out a book review. It’s good to be back.
Today I’m reviewing Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You.
There’s a reason there’s a lot of hype around this book. The characters are so distinct and interesting, the story incredibly compelling and emotional. I haven’t had a book pull me in so completely like this for a long time. So often people will say “this book had me laughing out loud and crying at the same time”, so much so that it becomes a reviewing cliché. In all honesty I rarely cry and don’t tend to laugh out loud when reading, but I found myself having to read this book alone in another room for fear of someone seeing my reactions. Turns out, JoJo Moyes is a storytelling genuis. She had me in the palm of her hand.
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.
The big mistake would be to stumble across this book and automatically think it’s another simple love story, or a chick lit tale that you might have heard over and over again. It is unlike anything else I’ve read before, and tackles a topical and very challenging subject. Will is a paraplegic, paralysed after a horrific car accident. Lou is a colourful twenty-something girl who is hired to be carer. Will used to live life to its fullest, going on wild holidays and adventures, sleeping with beautiful women, being ruthless in business and earning a lot of money. Suddenly, he finds life unbearable when it’s all torn away from him and just can’t understand why Lou doesn’t make the most of her life while she’s young. Lou sees nothing wrong with how she spends her time – until Will opens her eyes to the possibilities of life.
Each and every character within the novel is so distinct and you will probably see at least some of your own philosophies or family dynamics reflected within the story. The sibling rivalry between Lou and her very intelligent sister is all too relatable, her feeling of being trapped in a loveless relationship will probably chime with a few readers as well. I loved her parents, although felt it a bit unfortunate for Lou that their financial stability rested on her.
Me Before You is so fascinating because it’s an exploration of how differently people live their lives and how differently people see the world. It’s also a brilliant demonstration of how events in life can change a person completely – both physically but also mentally. Most importantly, it is gripping because it makes you fall in love with the characters and the way they influence each other is incredibly moving. It is both life-affirming and utterly heart-breaking.
This is an absolutely beautiful novel. I couldn’t recommend it enough.