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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
Short, Simple, No Spoilers
Fun story of funky, flighty Louisa undertaking a new and temporary position caring for a quadra paraplegic. Will lived a full, exciting life until a freak, ironic accident confined him to the chair. The plotline is fairly predictable, but worth your time for a fun and easy listen.
What I liked most was the surprising complexity of the characters. Lou/Louisa was open and honest about her frustrations of caring for an "ass" as she calls him and displays a mixture of emotions: easy-going, frustrated, complacent, and spirited. Will was stubborn, pragmatic and honest with his assessment of Lou and the situation, class system, and more details I won't give away. Moyes paints both characters with rich detail. I could picture Will down to his shirt, haircut, and even the smell of his skin ( I know that sounds creepy) but enjoyed the experience and even shed a tear at the end.
Jo Jo Moyes latest book, "The Girl You Left Behind" is an excellent read.
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!
I mostly got this book because I loved the book cover design and it sounded interesting. And then I started listening and couldn't stop. Seriously, bought it yesterday, finished it today. The book is 15 hours long. The narrator is perfect in every way and the story is unique and beautiful. Loved it.
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
Avid listener on my daily commute!
Well, geez. I'm not going to lie to you: this book is a really awkward mix of boring, silly, predictable chick lit and serious, depressing would-be tearjerker. The characters are on the shallow, unbelievable side (e.g., we are to believe the heroine, Louisa, is nearly 30 years old but somehow has never even considered reading a book, attending college, or moving in with her shallow, silly boyfriend of nearly a decade). The main narrator is good, and a good fit for the material, however, and even though the additional narrators are introduced so very late in the story that they feel like an awkward distraction, the sum total is a book that mostly flows along at an acceptable pace. I never truly felt for the characters because I never really believed in them as real, three-dimensional people, but there were some interesting aspects to the story. One thing I didn't expect was the fascinating glimpse into lower middle class British society. I also learned a few things I didn't know about the life and limitations of a quadriplegic (although I couldn't help but notice a few bits of misinformation scattered in amidst the truths).
Grade: C plus (or B minus if we are grading generously on a curve).
Bechdel test: Pass. (Lou and her sister Katrina converse about Trina's school plans and career goals...as well as which of them deserves the larger bedroom when they're both still living at home with their economically unstable parents.)
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