Okay, first up: you will probably need a box of tissues when reading this book. Also, it’s probably best to read this at home or in private so that you don’t look emotionally unstable (like me, on the bus home from work, crying like baby in front of fifty strangers – not my best look).
First things first; I LOVED this book. I read it from cover to cover in less than a day (which is seriously rare for me). ‘Me Before You’ is quite an unconventional story. It is the story of Louise (Lou), a lost mid-twenties girl who finds herself caring for Will, a young man who is became a quadriplegic after a motorcycle accident. Lou has been hired to care for Will after his accident. They don’t have a lot in common and don’t get along at first. He is (understandably) finding it incredibly difficult to move on from this accident, and so he is quite prickly and unapproachable at first, although he slowly warms to her bright and sunny personality. Just as we start to see Will for who he truly is, we find that he plans to end his life.
Moyes deals with some really complicated and uncomfortable topics in a tender and thoughtful way. The main theme in the book is dealing with an event that obliterates your future plans for life. Along the way we hear from other quadriplegics and get exposed to the reality of their lives. Although it made me uncomfortable to think about someone wanting to end their life, it was quite eye opening and made me really think about assisted suicide in a way that I had never done before. Despite its rough subject matter it’s not a bleak book. Its a lovely story punctuated with moments of extreme emotion.
I also found the characters to be really relatable. As a mid-twenties girl myself, I really identified with Lou. I really connected with her dedication to her family, which was perhaps to her own detriment. I really understood her internal conflict between wanting to be comfortable and wanting to be adventurous. I loved Will too. He had a great depth of character, and the book really delved into how he must be feeling. He was also incredibly sweet and thoughtful underneath his steely and cold exterior. The minor characters were fantastic too, and they complimented the story beautifully.
The book is written largely in the perspective of Lou, although there are a handful of chapters written from the perspective of other characters. These are well done. By adding different viewpoints, the book deals explores the complex feelings that surround such a difficult subject.
I suppose that it is a love story, but that is almost secondary to everything else in the book. It’s more an unlikely connection between two people that opens up their worlds. I laughed, I cried, and I really connected to the story and the characters. It is a truly beautiful book, and I have thought about it a lot since finishing it. I really loved this book and I wish that I could read it again with fresh eyes – it’s that good! So if you haven’t read it yet, I’m ordering you to go and do so now!
My rating: ★★★★☆
Group rating: ★★★★☆
I can’t wait to go see the movie. It has Emilia Clarke and Sam Clafin in it (which is reason enough to go!) and you can watch the preview on YouTube here. In fact, our book club is going to the movie first, and then discussing the book and the movie after (with plenty of wine and cheese of course!)
Have you read Me Before You? Are you planning to go and see it in the cinema?
While you’re here, check out my previous book club: The Messenger by Markus Zusak.