Get busy living or get busy dying* – “Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes

February 27, 2013 at 9:07 pm 2 comments

“Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes, Published in 2012

This book was good. I think this is mainly because I found the main character, Louisa (“Lou”), so lovable.  The story is fairly recognizable – but Moyes is able to breath new life into what could have been a very “haven’t I read this already” story.

Lou grew up in a town outside of London. Other than the yearly flow of tourists who come to see the town’s castle, Lou’s life had been very limited, until she loses her job at the cafe and has to find new employment.  After a lot of looking Lou ends up working for the Traynors, a rich family that lives on the other side of town.  The Traynors hire Lou to look after their son Will, who two years before was hit by a car leaving him a quadriplegic.  Before his accident, Will had been a dynamic and successful business man.  Now in his mid-thirties, Will sits in his wheelchair surrounded by pictures of his former self skiing and mountain climbing.

A bit predictably, Lou and Will get off to a rocky start.  Lou is nervously and superficially upbeat. Will is angry and bitter.  However, over time their relationship changes and they begin to get in a daily rhythm with each other.  But just as Lou is starting to feel that her relationship with Will is becoming meaningful she finds out that Will plans to end his life.   Unable to continue a life trapped in his body, Will has made the decision to not live what he calls a half-life.  In response, Lou takes it upon herself to prove to Will that his life is valuable and, though not ideal, still can be amazingly full.  Through all of this, while Lou is placing a value on Will’s existence, Will teaches Lou that she is equally as important and that it is time for her to challenge herself and see the world.

Life is beautiful – it has great loves and triumphs. Some days you have to catch your breath because the world is amazing.  You look at your children and you just know this is where you are meant to be.  But life is also extremely hard. We suffer great loss, some of the sorrows that we carry seem insurmountable. There are days that we cannot imagine we will get through.  For some people they simply can’t do it anymore.  Whether that is okay is a tough question and it is one that Moyes does not shy away from.  It is a harsh reality and for me as a reader it was really difficult to read.  Moyes seems to impress on the reader that while Lou before knowing Will was not everything she could be, Will before his accident and before meeting Lou really was.  For Will killing himself is the final choice about his body he can make and that is extremely important to him.

I think this topic of suicide is rarely as simple (for lack of a better word) as it is in this book.  It is typically deeply meshed, though not always, with mental illness, economic hardship and many other factors that are not present here.  So while Moyes has started a conversation here it does not convey all the pieces necessary to have a meaningful discourse on the topic. But that said, Moyes’ writing and her characters make a pretty remarkable impression and that is certainly enough.

*Quote from “Shawshank Redemption”

Other reviews to check out: 

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Entry filed under: February 2013 reads. Tags: , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Allison @ The Book Wheel  |  February 28, 2013 at 1:07 am

    I have a copy of this book and am looking forward to reviewing it, as well!

    Reply
    • 2. Emily C  |  March 22, 2013 at 6:53 am

      I hope you like it! I look forward to reading your review.

      Reply

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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.

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