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Publisher's Summary

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

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A Journey Into the Unknown

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.

374 of 405 people found this review helpful

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Will & Louisa - each has what the other one needs

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.

97 of 111 people found this review helpful

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  • Meghan
  • United States
  • 01-14-13

I actually stopped driving while I was listening

What did you love best about Me Before You?

It felt so real - so very believable. In fact, one portion of the story was in the newspaper headlines today.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I laughed. I ugly cried. I stopped driving in the middle of a road.

121 of 140 people found this review helpful

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Oh, for goodness sake, just listen to this

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."

78 of 94 people found this review helpful

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Entertaining and Engaging Chick Lit

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.

91 of 111 people found this review helpful

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Amazing

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!

66 of 81 people found this review helpful

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  • Kelly
  • Omaha, NE, United States
  • 03-01-13

Yes, you should get this beautiful book

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.

24 of 31 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • Easley, SC, United States
  • 04-30-13

Who or What defines Quality of Life?

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

39 of 51 people found this review helpful

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  • Wendi
  • Houston, TX
  • 12-30-13

Old Fashioned Love With a Twist

I am normally not one for romances or love stories, however I kept getting 'Me Before You, A Novel' recommended to me. It seemed as though every time I turned around another friend was telling my how touching the novel is and how it should be on my 'must read' list. I took advantage of the holiday sale and bought the book at audible, as well as the kindle book. I am the type that likes to listen and read along.

The author, Jojo Moyes, introduces us to Louisa, who lives in a small town in England which has one main tourist area which is an old castle. Louisa has been in an fairly stagnant relationship with her long time boyfriend Patrick. He has recently become obsessed with working out and they really have nothing in common anymore. She figures she'll marry him, and have his babies all the while living in the same five mile radius in which she grew up.

Louisa lives with her mom, dad, grandfather, sister and nephew in a tiny home barely built for all of them and her parents rely on her wages at the 'Buttered Bun' to help make ends meet. When Louisa is told that the owner of the 'Buttered Bun' is closing down his restaurant, she is forced to find another job. Surprisingly, she does find a job as a caretaker for the wealthiest family in town.

Louisa is in charge of looking after Will, who was once a very successful business man and a daredevil. He traveled the world and lived life by the seat of his pants. He was miserable in his state of having to be taken care of around the clock, with little control of his movement and bodily function. When Louisa finds out that the job is a contract position for six months, her suspicions arise and she figures out that Will has given his parents six months to try and convince him to continue to live, but after the six months is over, he will go to a clinic in Switzerland where there are legal procedures for people who wish to die.

Louisa and Will develop a very guarded and intimate relationship, and soon Louisa finds that her sole purpose in life is trying to convince Will that he is indeed a person that is loved and needed in this world, despite his body's failure. Does she convince him to live forever? You'll have to have a listen to find out.

Me Before You is definitely a page turner. The characters are all very earthy and I loved them all. The narration was performed by several different voices (people) and they all added their own point of view on the situation. I enjoyed this as I delved further into the characters and what their thoughts were. My heart ached for Will's mother, who of course under no circumstances wanted her son to die. This is a very emotional book and it deserves to be listened to with full attention. There is so much humanity and ultimate love and sacrifice. It provides hope to the reader that people still do care about others, and it also presents things to people who have no physical ailments. Those of us not suffering with debilitating diseases take advantage of our health, which is something we may want to think twice about.

I am rating this novel 5 stars across the board. This is not a typical romance, but instead a gritty, character building novel with a rich story line and a lot of heart.

17 of 24 people found this review helpful

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A Predictable, Tough but Recommended Read

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.

20 of 29 people found this review helpful