Series: Me Before You #1
Published by Pamela Dorman Books on December 31, 2012
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Louisa Clark is an ordinary young woman living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.
Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.
A love story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?
First I noticed the red cover. Then I began to see this book make rounds again and again. But it wasn’t until I read Hannah’s thoughts on So Obsessed With that I really wanted to pick up the book and give it a try. Normally when I read a book like this one, I have to read slowly and process all of the information. In this instance, I couldn’t help but read the book much quicker than I normally would because I because so invested in the lives of Lou Clark and Will Traynor.
After Lou loses a job that she loves dearly, she is devastated. Because her family depends on her for income, she has to dive headfirst back into the workforce, accepting pretty much the first job that becomes available to her. Lou never would have imagined that she would become private caretaker to a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic, but the pay is extraordinary and her family urges her to at least give it a try. So Lou takes the job.
At first, Will does not make things easy for Lou. He is bitter about how his life has turned out, and understandably so. Before his unfortunate accident, he was an active man – he enjoyed a myriad of extreme sports, he had an active social life, and he was a force in the business world. But now? Will feels that he has been reduced to practically nothing. When Lou meets him, he is so sarcastic and rude to her that she isn’t sure she can stand to be around him.
Lou is incredible. Perpetually colorful and happy, even down to the way she dresses. She tries to look on the bright side of things. She never gives up on Will, even when he pushes her away with his angry words and venomous tones. Eventually, Lou and Will begin to bond over movies and music and books – before she knows it, she’s found a way into his head, his heart, his life.
See, Will can’t stand the way everyone tiptoes around him – it annoys him to no end. His family and his old friends treat him as if he’s breakable when in fact, he just wants to be treated as close to normal – as close to the old Will – as possible. The thing Will likes about Lou is that when he gave her a hard time, she gave it right back. She didn’t put up with his nasty behavior. She was honest with him and met him head-on. Will appreciated this. For the first time since his accident, he felt like he found someone that understood him at least a little. Will found a friend. Then, over the course of six-ish months, Will and Lou became very close. Very, very close.
The relationship between Will and Lou is a joy to read, in both the good times and the hard times. Lou is patient with Will, taking care to learn everything she needs to know about the care of someone in a wheelchair. Likewise, Will is patient with Lou, taking care to teach her everything she needs to know about someone living in a wheelchair. After six months, the feelings they have for each other go far beyond the bounds of what a caretaker normally feels for the person she is caring for. And this is the point where interesting becomes even more interesting.
So…this book took my heart, made it swell, and then broke it up into a million, billion pieces. If there is ever a book that can make you feel so happy and so sad at the same time, this is it. What I mean is that there are such a broad range of emotions that accompany Me Before You, and they are all felt so very deeply – it is impossible not to be profoundly affected by this story. But I think that is what Jojo Moyes was hoping to accomplish when she wrote this, or at least I assume so.
I loved Will Traynor. I loved the way he was so expressive of himself at times and so guarded at other times. I feel like he was written so well, such a brilliant, brilliant character. I loved that he was bitter and angry at how his life turned out, because it felt authentic and true (what I assume to be true). I loved watching him open himself up a little bit at a time to Lou as she was able to reach him in ways that no one else could. The thing about Will was that all of his family and all of his friends (from his life before the accident) had written him off, had forgotten that he was a super-smart guy with a lot going for him. His parents assumed responsibility for his permanent care but never got him out of the house or encouraged him to be around other people like himself. For all intensive purposes – until Lou was hired – people treated Will like his mind changed just as much as his body, which wasn’t the case at all. I was so happy that Lou came into Will’s life.
And Lou was a lovely character as well. Her home life was a bit crazy. Her house reminded me of a flurry of activity all the time – people always coming and going, lots of noise, everyone depending on her to keep everything afloat – even her parents. Lou’s boyfriend Patrick was just awful – it was obvious that Lou didn’t feel a deep connection to him but kept him around because she felt like she couldn’t do any better. (I despised his character so much!) When Lou was in the scenes with Will, I almost felt like she was at her most relaxed even though her job was demanding, and I felt like she was developing and changing as a person so much for the better. Lou finished the book so much differently than she began it, and I loved the Lou at the end so much.
The relationship between Will and Lou is probably one of my favorite relationships that I’ve read in a while. After they found their groove, it was such an easy relationship even though it was not perfect. I loved being able to spy on their time together, to listen into their conversations, to watch them go about their business. I loved watching the two of them change and develop as people – both of them helped the other one in ways they each could never know, and I think that is so amazing and was written into the story so well. I actually felt like I was eavesdropping on real people, living a real life – making jokes, sitting beside one another, watching movies, etc. Reading the two of them together was such joy and pain.
For all of the great things about this book (and there are many), there is also a ton of emotional weight and sadness. Will is not the person he used to be. He will never be able to do most of the things that he could do before, and he mourns his past life without ceasing. No matter what Lou does, no matter how happy she makes him – Will is still sad about this, which made me sad too. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book in which I simultaneously felt happy and sad at the same time for such a great length of the book. Because of Will’s sadness, he makes some decisions that absolutely break my heart and made me cry. There is so much to this book that I’m not even mentioning here because it would spoil the plot.
Me Before You is one of the most discussable adult contemporary books I think I’ve ever read. It seems like everyone will likely have an opinion on some of the events that are included in the story. Whatever your opinions, however you feel, this book is one that is worth taking the time to read if you enjoy books that spark discussion and make you think. It’s been a while since I finished it and I’m still thinking about it – I have a feeling that won’t stop any time soon.
I LOVE THIS BOOK. but it killed me.. KILLED. but also made me happy at the same time. I love the characters SO MUCH. Ahhh! I cant say more!
I know! Exactly. I felt every feeling x 10000. I tell everyone that this book BROKE me. And of course I sobbed.
I've heard nothing but praise for this one! Really must give it a try; not my normal read, but then again, maybe it's time to try something that's not my normal read! Fantastic review!
This book is really something else. It was outside of what I'd consider my normal read, too. But I was so very curious because it was getting such high praise from so many people and I just kept seeing it pop up over and over. Once I started it, I couldn't put it down, which is so rare for me with books like this – usually really emotional books (super happy or super sad) make me have to read really slowly. But I devoured this one really quickly. And MAN it has just stuck with me. I am still thinking about it. I have a feeling that I'll always remember this story and I think it has affected me pretty deeply. And I've loved that I've been able to discuss it with several people in depth.
Awesome, heartfelt review, Ash! I am still trying to decide if I'll write one for this book. On the one hand, it is extremely discussable, but on the other I know I will struggle just because of the highly charged emotions this book evokes. I haven't returned my copy to the library yet so I guess I'll mull it over some more. But I am so glad I heard about it and read it. Like you, I find that I am still thinking about this book even though I finished it weeks ago. I think even though it's a tough read, it's a subject that everyone could benefit from by reading.
I don't know if they will ever develop it for a film but I can tell you that it will be a tough one for me to watch. I still don't know if I am going to be able to watch The Fault in Our Stars when it hits the screen!
Oh man, I had to get it out of the house! I returned my library copy right away. That's kind of weird for me too, but it made me so emotional it had to go! I'm really glad I read it too, but I don't think this will be on my re-read list. I LOVED Will and Lou and I'll remember their bantering and bickering and how much I loved that part, but Patrick and some of the other parts of the book – I'd just assume not go through that again! I'll hold onto the good parts. But I'm so glad I read it. Sometimes it's good for me to read books like this.
In terms of a film, I'm EXTREMELY loyal to directors, producers, and actors so it would depend on who did those things as to whether or not I'd see it – I'd be willing to put myself through all of the emotion for certain people in the film industry – that would be a good email discussion because I'm VERY loyal, haha. But in general, if certain people don't have their hands on it, I'd probably not see it. Same with TFiOS (so far, none of my loyals are in on it!)
I had to get this out of the house right away too! It was due, but I felt the same as Ash about it. I would like to write a review though, if only for my benefit.
I had to take a deep breath before reading this review. Then I almost started crying. I keep thinking about writing a review, but I'm not sure if I can manage to write it as well as you did – not giving away things, but being honest, and showing how much this one affected me (also without crying). I love how you highlighted Will and Lou's relationship, and how they were at ease with each other – more than with anyone else. I LOATHED Patrick, as you know. And I don't think he was necessary to the extent that he was in this story.
You're right. This is a book that makes you think. And consider some big issues on a very human level. I don't think i'll ever stop thinking about this one.
I think it's okay if you don't want to post this one on the blog.
You know how I feel about Patrick. I hope he falls down when he's running his all-important races and skins his knees. Yep, I said it. (That's mean, isn't it?) I agree with questioning his importance in the story.
I'm actually still thinking about this story, long after returning the book to the library. But I thought that if I wrote on it a little bit and posted it, perhaps I could stop thinking on it so much. So this is my attempt at that. Not sure how it's gonna go, but we'll see. These issues are very human and I think that's why we're all so affected and in different ways and to differing degrees. But I love that we all read something that made us squirm a little bit, something a little outside of our box, and we've all made it out on the other side. Hopefully posting this up here will alleviate some of my lingering feelings about this story. (By highlighting my favorite parts, I'm hoping that those are the parts that STICK. In my brain, I mean.) Not sure if that makes any sense at all.
Ha! Ash, you are like "I hope he falls and skins his knees!" and I'm all like "Kick him in the crotch!"
Lol, I must be more like Treena than I thought:)
I'm with Heather on this one!
I absolutely LOVE this book! It made fall in love with the characters, think (very thought-provoking like you said) and cry.. ok more like sob lol. It's been a couple months since I read it and I still think about it. And fangirl when I see another blogger review it 🙂
Sob is absolutely correct! I thought the characters were fantastic and I loved their interaction. Completely thought-provoking book, probably the most thought-provoking I've read in a long time.
I've heard a lot about this one recently, which is why I want to read it so badly – and hopefully soon! I'm so glad you loved this book and I always enjoy the type of novels that can really inspire emotion from you. Although this seems like a casual romance from the outside, it clearly isn't, and I love that. Plus, we all need a romance novel strewn in between everything else every now-and-then, so I can't wait to give this a try! 🙂
Oh boy, emotion is absolutely correct! I felt every emotion imaginable with this book and still do. The romance is much more than casual, but to go into any great detail would be to give too much information away, and this book is best experienced when you can gather information on your own and form your own opinions about it. Plus, it is a great book for discussion with book friends. I have no doubt that it has left an impression on me that probably won't go away. Maybe ever!
"If there is ever a book that can make you feel so happy and so sad at the same time, this is it."
Oh dear is right. THIS BOOK. All the emotions. All the Kleenex.
Oh my goodness, this sounds like just my kind of book. I actually love crying over books, and from your review I take it that the emotions are overwhelming. It sounds like such a beautiful story too 🙂
This book is really great book and it is full of emotion and lots of tears. If you love crying over books, READ THIS ONE. Such a discussable story!
This book made my heart swell with joy, but also shattered it into a million tiny pieces. Once I'd started it, I found that I just could not stop reading it. That probably has mostly to do with the characters and how addicted I was to discovering what would happen to them and between them. It was SO GOOD.
Yes to everything you just said. I'm STILL thinking about it, just like they're real people and not just a fiction story.
I read this book a while ago, but just thinking about it now makes me emotional. I really came to care about Will and Lou. I actually had to stop reading at points in the book beacuse my eyes were so red and puffy from crying, and my nose was sore from blowing tissues! (I think I went through 3/4 of the box!)
It was such a heart-breakingly beautiful story!
OH THIS BOOK. I just can't even say anything else, except I'm glad we got to discuss it together! Oh, AND that I'm glad my review helped finally push you to read this 🙂
I have heard that this one is very good, and I am anxious to try it out for myself. It sounds like a really heartbreaking read, but one that you found to be delightful and full of wonder. Very nice review!!