Book Review – Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

So, I used to do a monthly round up of all the books I read and posted my reviews from Goodreads. I’m not doing that anymore, basically because I haven’t had enough time to write reviews for every single book I read. But I do have time to write them for some of the books I read. I am just going to post them on the days I write them instead of it being some dramatic thing at the end of the month. If you want to find me on Goodreads, I am here.

Me-Before-You

Four Stars

Jesus this book. I don’t remember what caused to me want to read this, but I do know that I loaded it up on my Nook and took it to Europe with me over the summer. It seemed like the sort of fairly light read, while still being somewhat meaningful, that is perfect for train reading. Well, I never got around to it in Europe and I am sort of glad I didn’t. Because this isn’t exactly the sort of book you want to finish while encased in a metal tube speeding along a pair of tracks with people you don’t know.

When I was little I used to pride myself that I didn’t cry at books or movies. They could be the saddest tale in twelve centuries and I would nod my head, agree it was sad, and then move on my my day. Not a tear shed. That’s not to say I wasn’t affected by stories, of course, but you get what I mean. Then when I was somewhere around thirteen I watched the movie ‘Camelot’. I had seen this movie before, many times, but this particular viewing I was suddenly struck with a sort of deep emotional response. That world, the Arthurian world, so perfect and happy and chivalrous, where knights performed acts of heroism and the ladies were so delightfully dramatic, was obliterated in the blink of an eye because the Queen couldn’t keep it in her pants. And what’s more I couldn’t even approve of her choice because Arthur seemed genuinely awesome while Lancelot was just sort of… okay. The end scene when Vanessa Redgrave, dressed in her nun’s habit, approaches Richard Harris to apologize, far too late, I suddenly broke down into floods of tears. Remembering how these two character’s met, liking each other immediately and realizing that their lots in life might not be so bad with each other and then it all went to hell. I cried for maybe an hour. My mother was very alarmed.

That entire story might have seemed like a ridiculous tangent, but it really wasn’t. Because how I felt about that movie at that time in my life is pretty much exactly how I felt about this book. This book was easy reading, I sped through it and couldn’t put it down, but it was so emotional that, even though I was prepared (having read the beginnings of a few other people’s Goodreads reviews which generally began with “I just put this down and I can’t stop crying”) I really didn’t know how this was going to affect me emotionally. I was a little skeptical reading a book by an author who makes no bones about her genre being “romance”, but I shouldn’t have been. Romance takes place in more books than it doesn’t and this book was far more than just a boy meets girl sort of tale.

Louisa Clark doesn’t quite know what to do when she loses her job at the Buttered Bun. She’s always been happy living the quiet life, serving up tea and watching customers come and go in her small town. Out of desperation she takes a job as a daytime caregiver to quadriplegic, Will Traynor. Will, was an action man, always looking for a new adventure, mountain climbing, scuba diving, always a new place to see; all funded by his high powered job. That is until he was cut down by a motorbike outside his glamorous London flat and found himself in a wheelchair. Unable to move anything belong his neck, except slight mobility of one hand, Will is angry, bored, and frustrated with the world. So much so that he’s decided to take his future into his own hands. Louisa is only a complication, but one that might just be exactly what he needed. Scared at first, Louisa finds herself settling into her new roll and eventually realizing that the two of them might just be good for each other.

The plot of this story is fairly simple and it would be easy to dismiss it, thinking you know what is going to happen. And, you might. There are only a few outcomes here really. But like they say with road trips; getting there is half the fun. These are wonderfully crafted characters. Will, in his justifiable anger at the world; Louisa in her cramped fear of the broader world. Even their respective families are colorful characters in their own right. His stoic mother and philandering father. Her warm parents and selfish sister. All their negative traits splayed out of us without judgement. That doesn’t happen to often. Especially in the chick-lit or romance genre. Ancillary characters often become caricatures.

None of the characters in this story where perfect. None of them. But that is what I liked about it. People aren’t perfect. Perhaps it’s easier to judge a character in a book than the people around you but the way I see it is that everyone is messed up, everyone has their issues, you just have to figure out how and if those issues fit with your issues. This wasn’t a book about two people finding each other is strange circumstances, this is about people, all people because the ancillary characters are included in this assessment, fitting other people into their lives and how that changes you. Whether or not the two main characters fall in love is completely arbitrary because their are a lot of ways to change someone else, and yourself at the same time (because, let’s face it; it’s impossible to do one without the other) an it’s not always romantically.

The thing that impressed me most was the natural changing of the character’s feelings. Everything felt realistic. Nothing too broad or dramatic. Everything took time, like in life. And while this isn’t a particularly funny story, I found myself laughing out loud a few times simply because they were such fun to be around. And that’s the real testament, isn’t it? I wouldn’t mind spending a few more days with these people even if I knew the ending was the right one for the story, if not for my heart.

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About Lindsay

I have a C'est Moi page, you should probably just read that.
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