Review – Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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I didn’t know too much about Me Before You before I picked it up and started reading.  I thought the cover was fun and funky, and had a vague recollection of a positive blurb in a magazine.  I’m glad I stumbled into this book without knowing too much about the plot–I’m not too much of a romance buff, but I was pleasantly surprised by this story.  Instead of the usual boy-meets-girl, the concept here is that girl (Lou) is hired to look after quadriplegic man (Will), paralyzed when a motorcycle struck him as he crossed the street.  Lou and Will must interact for 8 hours each day as it is her job to keep him company and assist him with daily activities.  Emotions ensue.

Glance through the .gifs featured on Goodreads reviews of Me Before You, and it appears to be the most devastating novel ever written. Although I didn’t find it that heartbreaking, there were some times I chose to put the book down and take a break; it is some seriously heavy reading material, confronting moral issues and human emotions with the same brutal honesty of a Jodi Picoult story.

All the love aside, what I really appreciated about this book was its broach of a topic I haven’t often encountered in popular fiction, the day-to-day experience of a quadriplegic man in our world.  As Lou began to see the world from Will’s perspective, I did too.  Lou points out: “There are things you don’t notice until you accompany someone with a wheelchair.  One is how rubbish most pavements are, pockmarked with badly patched holes, or just plain uneven.  Walking slowly next to Will as he wheeled himself along, I saw how every uneven slab caused him to jolt painfully, or how often he had to steer carefully around some potential obstacle.”  Moyes does a great job of describing the discomfort people have when interacting with someone who is paralyzed or immobile.  There are failed handshake attempts, people obviously attempting to avert their eyes, and others noticeably staring.

Me Before You was similar, in some ways, to The Dive From Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer.  In that book, a young man is paralyzed after a dive into a shallow lake, and his fiancé chooses to flee the situation.  The Dive from Clausen’s Pier shows us the significant other’s perspective.  In Me Before You, Will’s girlfriend has already tried to make it work and left him; we see the aftermath of this from his perspective rather than hers.  Both books are worth checking out.

This was the first book by Jojo Moyes I had read.  Her latest novel is called The Girl You Left Behind and sounds to be in the same love-through-history vein as Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, which was a hit.

Me Before You on Amazon

Me Before You on Indiebound

Jojo Moyes webpage

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