Title:Me Before You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Published by Pamela Dorman Imprint on December 31, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Women, Fiction
FTC, FYI: Read a borrowed copy from the library
“You only get one life. It's actually your duty to
live it as fully as possible.”
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.
Like many of you I have seen the movie trailer for Me Before You, a novel that originally came out in 2012. I knew I wanted to read the book before seeing the movie coming out this June. I am late coming to this ballgame of reading this contemporary fiction novel. I've heard a lot about it and read many reviews that were positive and some negative. Like always, I like to read the book myself before forming an opinion.
I was taken in from the very beginning of this story. Moyes writing style is so engaging and entertaining. The story is told in first person narrative, all Lou's except for a few chapters from other people, which felt kind of strange throwing them in where they did. I'm not sure that they were needed.
I liked main character Louisa, Lou, from the beginning. She is a twenty-six year old woman who is living a very normal life in a common job working in a local cafe, she has been in a seven year relationship with her over-obsessed athletic boyfriend Patrick, and she still lives at home to help out her family- especially financially. Lou is quirky, bubbly, and eccentric, especially with her fashion style. She also is somewhat timid in the way she looks at life because of something that happened to her in her past. After her job ends she is in need of employment. Lou takes a job as a carer of Will a quadriplegic man. Throughout the course of the story we see Lou come to life. I loved the journey I saw her take as she became friends, and a little bit more with Will.
Will after being hit by a motorcycle has given up the desire to go on in his life. He had been living an adventurous, healthy life of many trips and adventures. Now Will is cold, in a lot of pain, and distant with most people, but underneath that cold exterior, there still lies a hidden layer of humor and the way he looks at life. Bringing these two very different people together at first seems like a mistake. Lou wants to call it quits quite early on as she learns how to take care of Will and putting up with his shifting moods.
The best part of this book are the interactions between Lou and Will. If you take each interaction for what it is, and not wondering if Lou can change Will's mind about ending his life, then you will enjoy this book so much more. No one can be in Will's head and understand what it is like living the life of a quadriplegic, unless you are living that life. That is why I hope readers don't judge Will harshly about his reasons and attitude of how he views his life now.
***Warnings: Infrequent swearing using British terms such as "arse" and "bloody, as well as "f--k" and its variations, social drinking, little sexual content, sketchy details of gang rape, but not described.***
― Jojo Moyes,
― Jojo Moyes,
EXCERPT: from Me Before You
As I stood there, he reached into his pocket and handed another key to me. “This is the spare,” he said. “Not to be given to anyone else. Not even Will, okay? Guard it with your life.”
“It’s a lot to remember.” I swallowed.
“It’s all written down. All you need to remember for today are his antispasm meds. Those ones. There’s my mobile number if you need to call me. I’m studying when I’m not here, so I’d rather not be called too often but feel free till you feel confident.”
I stared at the folder in front of me. It felt like I was about to sit an exam I hadn’t prepared for. “What if he needs . . . to go to the loo? ” I thought of the hoist. “I’m not sure I could, you know, lift him.” I tried not to let my face betray my panic.
Nathan shook his head. “You don’t need to do any of that. His catheter takes care of that. I’ll be in at lunchtime to change it all. You’re not here for the physical stuff.”
“What am I here for?”
Nathan studied the floor before he looked at me. “Try to cheer him up a little? He’s . . . he’s a little cranky. Understandable, given . . . the circumstances. But you’re going to have to have a fairly thick skin. That little skit this morning is his way of getting you off balance.”
“Is this why the pay is so good?”
“Oh yes. No such thing as a free lunch, eh?” Nathan clapped me on the shoulder. I felt my body reverberate with it. “Ah, he’s all right. You don’t have to pussyfoot around him.” He hesitated. “I like him.”
He said it like he might be the only person who did.
I followed him back into the living room. Will Traynor’s chair had moved to the window, and he had his back to us and was staring out, listening to something on the radio.
“That’s me done, Will. You want anything before I go?”
“No. Thank you, Nathan.”
“I’ll leave you in Miss Clark’s capable hands, then. See you lunchtime, mate.”
With a rising sense of panic, I watched the affable helper putting on his jacket.
“Have fun, you guys.” Nathan winked at me, and then he was gone.
I stood in the middle of the room, hands thrust in my pockets, unsure what to do. Will Traynor continued to stare out the window as if I weren’t there.
“Would you like me to make you a cup of tea?” I said, finally, when the silence became unbearable.
“Ah. Yes. The girl who makes tea for a living. I wondered how long it would be before you wanted to show off your skills. No. No, thank you.”
“Coffee, then? ”
“No hot beverages for me just now, Miss Clark.”
“You can call me Lou.”
“Will it help?”
I blinked, my mouth opening briefly. I closed it. Dad always said it made me look more stupid than I actually was. “Well . . . can I get you anything?”
He turned to look at me. His jaw was covered in several weeks of stubble, and his eyes were unreadable. He turned away.
“I’ll—” I cast around the room. “I’ll see if there’s any washing, then.”
I walked out of the room, my heart thumping. From the safety of the kitchen I pulled out my mobile phone and thumped out a message to my sister.
This is awful. He hates me.
The reply came back within seconds.
You have only been there an hour,
you wuss! M & D really
worried about money. Just get a grip
& think of hourly rate. X
I snapped my mobile phone shut, and blew out my cheeks. I went through the laundry basket in the bathroom, managing to raise a paltry quarter load of washing, and spent some minutes checking the instructions to the machine. I didn’t want to misprogram it or do anything that might prompt Will or Mrs. Traynor to again look at me like I was stupid. I started the washing machine and stood there, trying to work out what else I could legitimately do. I pulled the vacuum cleaner from the hall cupboard and ran it up and down the corridor and into the two bedrooms, thinking all the while that if my parents could see me they would have insisted on taking a commemorative photograph. The spare bedroom was almost empty, like a hotel room. I suspected Nathan did not stay over often. I thought I probably couldn’t blame him.
I hesitated outside Will Traynor’s bedroom, then reasoned that it needed vacuuming just like anywhere else. There was a built-in shelf unit along one side, upon which sat around twenty framed photographs.
As I vacuumed around the bed, I allowed myself a quick peek at them. There was a man bungee jumping from a cliff, his arms outstretched like a statue of Christ. There was a man who might have been Will in what looked like a jungle, and him again in the midst of a group of drunken friends. The men wore bow ties and dinner jackets and had their arms around one another’s shoulders.
There he was on a ski slope, beside a girl with dark glasses and long blond hair. I picked up the frame, to get a better view of him in his ski goggles. He was clean-shaven in the photograph, and even in the bright light his face had that expensive sheen to it that moneyed people get through going on holiday three times a year. He had broad, muscular shoulders visible even through his ski jacket. I put the photograph carefully back on the shelf and continued to vacuum around the back of the bed. Finally, I turned the vacuum cleaner off, and began to wind the cord up. As I reached down to unplug it, I caught a movement in the corner of my eye and jumped, letting out a small shriek. Will Traynor was in the doorway, watching me.
“Courchevel. Two and a half years ago.”
I blushed. “I’m sorry. I was just—”
“You were just looking at my photographs. Wondering how awful it must be to live like that and then turn into a cripple.”
“No.” I blushed even more furiously.
“The rest of my photographs are in the bottom drawer if you find yourself overcome with curiosity again,” he said.
And then with a low hum the wheelchair turned to the right, and he disappeared.