Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
About the Author
Jojo Moyes was raised in London. She writes for the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Red and Women & Home. She’s married to Charles Arthur, technology editor of The Guardian. They live with their three children on a farm in Essex, England.
This book starts off with twenty six year old, unemployed Louisa Clark hired as a paid companion to wealthy Will Traynor. Will has been wheelchair bound after a motorcycle accident but a few years earlier, he was a successful corporate payer who bought and sold companies for a major profit, climbed mountains, did adventure sports and dated leggy, cover girls. With this new situation, Will believes that his life as he knows it is over and he is not interested in exploring a new one. He has become prickly and embittered until his mother enlists Louisa as paid help to make him feel better again. At first, Will resent Louisa’s presence. Though she is kind and considerate and tries to stay out of his way, she cannot help but feel that she isn’t required or interesting enough to make conversation with him. At some point, after a visit from old friends with bad news, Will snaps at Louisa who has had about enough from him and manages to stand up for herself. There is a shift in the relationship after this. The way the author draws these characters out of their shells is great because it’s not a typical head over heels thing. All kinds of relationships takes time and work – this one takes time at the beginning but then there is a comfort that develops which is warm and all kinds of safe.
Louisa as a character is used to putting her needs last. Her parents very obviously considers her younger sister, Treena to be the more intelligent sibling. The same sibling who was now saddled with a baby and had put off college while Louisa supported the family. Patrick, Louisa’s boyfriend of 7 years, is a self absorbed personal trainer is concerned only with his performance in the next triathlon. As she and Will grow closer, he convinces her that she deserves more respect from everyone in her life, including herself. Both, for the other’s sake, push beyond their comfort zones and change each other in ways that neither could have ever anticipated.
This book delves into many relationships apart from the main protagonists. Louisa’s relationship with her parents, sister and boyfriend are all relatable – the ignored older child, the responsible sibling and the taken for granted partner. Louisa bears all of this with an acceptance that is worrisome but identifiable. Will’s relationship with his parents is at best normal – a cheating father and overprotective mother and a sister who hates the fact that Will’s illness overshadows every other achievement of hers. Both of them come from normal families, only with different issues. But both these protagonists together change because of their relationship with each other. This story is heartbreaking and inspiring – making it difficult to put down. Tell me about it – I read it in one night.