They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose.
Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life - steady boyfriend, close family - who has never been farther afield than her 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?
©2012 Jojo Moyes (P)2012 Penguin Audio
Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.
Neither the cover nor the title of Me Before You give any real hint of the story within, but I was very pleasantly surprised by what a simply great story it is. Jojo Moyes tells the story of Will Traynor, wheelchair-bound quadriplegic, and Louisa Clark, his hired care assistant, two polar opposites who would not have met under ordinary circumstances. Will is a successful financier from an upper-class family, a man who lived a "large life", but after the accident that made him a quadriplegic, his chilly magistrate mother hires Louisa to help care for Will. Louisa is an average, unintellectual girl, part of a close-knit, working class family that desperately needs the income from her job. She initially thinks she is in far over her head, but the family's financial situation leaves Louisa no choice. After some false starts, Will and Lou forge an interesting relationship, one where they both seem to get something that they very much need.
I won't recount any more plot details because this is the point where the book really starts to get interesting. The premise of Me Before You sounded very interesting to me, but I initially resisted reading it because I was afraid it would be a chick-lit romance (not my favorite). Me Before You is so much more and well worth reading.
This book starts with a simple bad luck story - in a very class-conscious country a "lower class" woman loses her menial restaurant job, which has helped support her family, and takes on a position as an "emotional" caregiver for a quadriplegic. His family has substantial economic resources and spares nothing in providing care for their impaired son; the protagonist, Louisa, is hired on, not as a medical care provider, but as a sort of lifestyle assistant, to improve the man's quality of life. This works until she learns that she is to be his babysitter to stop his suicide attempts - of which there has been at least one. She dislikes this premise when she learns of it but continues on to fulfill her contract, and Will's mood, appearance, and enjoyment of life gradually improve. She takes him on outings, to concerts, buys voice recognition software for his computer so that he can be part of the disabled community and form friendships, thus expanding the scope of his life.
At first I thought this would be predictably about how the able-bodied/impaired learn to relate, like each other and then fall in love. In this story, they do form a bond, of sorts, eventually, but it's not enough for Will to want to continue his life.
The story then moves on to considerations of assisted suicide, and asks the tough questions about quality of life and what level of quality is worth preserving. I won't spoil but the resolution of the story is handled with dignity and grace. Along the way, added to the mix are the emotional forces of those around Louisa and Will who have their own opinions and agendas.
Though well-written and full of laugh-out-loud moments, the book is not a front-runner on the audible home page, and I just happened to find it while browsing the "back room". The book truly deserves the 5 stars I've given it.
I would recommend a different title and cover design - both mislead the audible shopper towards the romantic and chick-fic genre and the story is so much more nuanced and complex. (Note: I am not disparaging chick-fic, and think it's a valid genre for entertainment purposes. But there are so many other reasons to read - learning how others live and handle life's challenges, appreciation of beautiful writing, virtual tourism and escape to other environments, handling conflict resolution, the list can go on.)
This is a terrific read, unconventional and unpredictable, and illustrative of larger questions than life in the present moment.
This is the best book I have listened to on audible- beware you will not want to leave the car when you start!. The book itself is lovely and is strongly supported by a talented voice cast that bring the story alive. I feel sad that the book is over and I don't think I have ever felt that except when I listened to the Help. Run don't walk to snap up this gem!
Say something about yourself!
It felt so real - so very believable. In fact, one portion of the story was in the newspaper headlines today.
I laughed. I ugly cried. I stopped driving in the middle of a road.
Me Before You is an utterly indescribable book. The publisher's description put me off for quite a long time. But, all the glowing Audible reviews persuaded me to take an aural gander. OMG! Poignant, funny, captivating. Jojo Moyes is a writer to follow. She tackled a subject about which no one really wants to read, and made it an infinitely empathetic, oh so English, witty, inspiring tale of courage, reminding us of the amazing, magical gift another bestows on us when they truly listen and make an effort to understand—really grasp—who we are at our very core.
The narraters were very good, especially Susan Lyons who does the main character. You will finish it, and sigh, and want so much to recommend it to others, but alas, Me Before You totally defies portrayal. All you'll be able to say is, "It's remarkable."
Actually, it is Jennifer, not Michael. I enjoy a variety of books but am drawn to romantic historical fiction with a Christian message.
This is a thought-prevoking, interesting story on a controversial topic. It was also an eye-opener to the stuggles faced by quadraplegics. Well-written, very entertaining, made me laugh out loud and cry. I could not stop listening! Jennifer
Listening to audiobooks is a guilty pleasure. I travel a lot so listen to about four per monthly. Biographies are a favorite.
Unique story. It's been a long time since an audio book choked me up (last time was The Fault in Our Stars)
Protagonist. I found myself rooting for her.
Yes - I finished this one quickly and found myself looking forward to the time I could plug it back in.
As much as my sentimental self was rooting for the sappy ending, this ending was perfect.
As an Audible Editor I listen for a living! British classics, YA novels, speculative fiction, and anything quirky, fascinating, or heart-wrenching.
In my self-description I wrote that I’m often drawn to heart-wrenching books. Well, this one certainly qualifies. If you read the synopsis of this story it will tell you that Me Before You is about a quadriplegic and the relationship that he forms with his care giver and how an unexpected love blossoms between them. Fine. This is indeed the narrative. But I’d tell you that what it’s really about is the impossible. (And not in the nice, hopeful “he did the impossible!” way. I mean in the wretched way.) I’ve never listened to a book that made me feel more trapped and claustrophobic. This is a real-life horror story about people who desperately want something they simply can’t have, and about differing perspectives that can never be reconciled. There’s a creepy old maze in the town where this novel is set that serves as a central point of imagery. And that’s what Jojo Moyes’ book feels like exactly: a tangle of directions, an unsolvable problem, knowing that there's no way out. How do you move forward if you keep turning circles on yourself because there is no acceptable answer? This book is simply crushing and will make you feel grateful for every moment of happiness you’ve ever had in your life. And yet, please don’t let the depressing picture I’ve painted scare you off. I can’t say this book is uplifting: it’s not. But it is revealing and instructive and even occasionally lovely.
Given the heavy subject matter, I don’t think I could stand it if Me Before You wasn’t perfectly narrated, and luckily it is - by a brilliant multicast. Though the content of the story is nothing like The Help, the multiple-perspective casting here is as authentic and well-executed.
I recommend this one highly to anyone up for an emotional challenge. However, there were a handful of side characters whose viewpoints just didn’t strike me as valid, or who could have been more sophisticatedly rendered. It’s only for this reason that am I not giving this book a full five stars.
The Fault in Our Stars Deals with loving someone who is physically challenged and about to die.
Louisa was simply an amazing person. She starts out as someone who can serve others and enjoy waitressing. When she looks for a job, (parts that are done with absolutely terrific writing and British humor) it becomes obvious that the color of her parachute is one that really just longs to selflessly serve someone else.
Her ability to love someone in a way didn’t fit the cultural romantic norms. She loved the quadriplegic, impotent Will in a way that was much more focused on little ordinary everyday things. The way that she loved him had a very important lesson as we love someone who is aging or sick or injured: physical attractiveness in the Hollywood sense falls away. What’s left? Louisa showed me that a whole lot is left!
Luisa’s character is one that doesn’t treat someone with kid gloves-- she dishes it right back! Gradually, her motives for her choices moved away from just needing a job. She allows herself to become changed powerfully by serving and gradually loving Will.
This type of literature is changing me. I know, I know: chick lit. But as a man with a wife and three daughters at home, and many hurting people around me, I need this insight and sensitivity to human emotion. I’d like to thank the author for that. For example, this book gave insight as to why my wife and daughters want my shirts to sleep with when I’m gone.
Being a Christian minister, I had to take away a star for some ethical and worldview issues. Just the other day my dad (74) and his friend Ralph, both of whom are physically struggling with disability and aging had robust joy in the consideration of the resurrection and heaven. They are laughing and confident facing death. That perspective is lacking here. At least it’s not considered.
I found the author’s writing style to be entertaining and definitely engrossing. Her description of facial expressions and gestures was exquisite.
It was quickly obvious where this novel was headed. The author could hardly deal with such a serious subject cutely. There could not be a "riding off into the sunset" HEA. I've read other reviews that called it a romance, a love story. I saw it more as a life story. Any romance was really just a potential. A potential that could never develop. About the only part of the book that rang untrue to me was Clark's declaration of love. If I had been on the receiving end of that declaration, right after hearing that the person giving it knew my secret, I would have thought it just another attempt to try and get me to change my mind, a ploy and a ruse.
But life is real and rarely if ever cute. I thought the author did a good job of presenting the dilemma of this particular life in an upfront, even handed way. There was very little preachiness and even after finishing the book, while I am relatively certain where I stand on the issue, the author did a very good job of not passing judgment. I expected her personal opinion on the issue to be evident at the end. It wasn't. At least not to me.
This is one of those novels that deals with an issue that needs to be discussed. As long as we continue to place more value on the quantity of life rather than the quality of it, this issue will not go away. And sometimes it is an issue that simply can't be raised on its own - discussing the plot of a novel is a more benign way to start the conversation.
Several other reviewers I read admitted to weeping through the last hour of the book. I can cry over a sad story, as much as the next guy, but I didn't cry over this one. I think that was partially because I knew where we were headed, so I wasn't caught off guard by the inevitable conclusion. I also don't think of it as a weepy read, because the real sadness, the accident that left Will a quadriplegic, was dealt with quickly in the first 3 minutes of the book. That was the tragedy, not the inevitable after-effects of it. And the tragedy was presented fairly clinically and abruptly at the beginning, before I was emotionally invested in the characters. So it didn't have the emotional punch to start the tears.
This was a better book than I expected it to be. I lost patience with Clark several times. She started out too immaturely. So much so it was a stretch to believe she came so far in such a short amount of time. And her complete lack of relationship skills, with her boyfriend, her family, or anyone else seemed a little extreme. That might be my only character-related complaint. I appreciated that the author didn't make Will a tragic figure. He wasn't a saint before the accident, as a matter of fact, he did not sound particularly likable. Nor was his family. That made it more believable than if he was portrayed as heroic, generous,compassionate or kind.
I usually don't like multiple narrators. Instead of clarifying perspective, they tend to just confuse me. I thought they all did a very good job on this and the periodic switch was helpful.
This was not an easy book to read. I had to put it down several times. I had a lighter, easier read going at the same time. That distraction helped me get through this. But I highly recommend it. It made me pause, made me think, made me dig deeper. And for a novel, that is saying a lot.
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