I saw the commercials for the release of the new film Me before You, and it seemed like a nice movie. Let’s be honest, whatching Sam Claflin for 1,5-2 hours is never bad now is it 😉 Then I realised it was a book turned into a film (as most films are, obviously), and I read a review by Heather B Moore, an author, and friend of mine on social media. After reading her review (see why review are so important 🙂 ), I had to find out for myself what this whole hype was about. And as always, I try to read the book first before ever seeing the film, because in all honesty, the book is always better than the film.
Book – Me before you
Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.
I cannot review this book – Me before you without giving away the whole story to this book. So if you don’t want me to spoil it for you, DO NOT READ ON!!!
Lou is a little lost in life, with due cause, and ends up working as a carer for Will, a paraplegic who is going to end his life in 6 months because he has had enough of life.
Will’s mum hires Lou because she feels Lou can possibly bring light and vibrancy back to Will’s life, and help him rethink his devastating choice.
At first Lou and Will don’t hit it off at all, but slowly an acceptance develops. This acceptance grows into a friendship, and very slowly this friendship lays the basis for a very deep and profound love. Naturally there is no room for any physical relationship (Will is paralyzed), which gives Miss Moyes the full possibility to develop a real and in depth attachment, without the physical aspect of the relationship getting in the way. This to me was a very refreshing element, especially in a bestselling book aimed at a mature audience.
I read this book purely for myself, and it ended up pulling me in from the very first page. I loved the English setting ( a nice change for me after reading so many American authors this year), and the very well developed characters. Each is unique in their own way in this tale, and it is interesting to get to know their full story as the book progresses.
Me before you is foremost a love story, and that is what the book mainly focusses on, the feelings developing between Lou and Will. That being said, you cannot deny the main theme in the story, Will deciding to end his life.
This for me was a sore point in the book for many reasons.
I read to escape real life. I like to take a moment from my busy life, and escape to a world in which I don’t have to think too very hard about the very pressing, hard worries of life. Not that I don’t enjoy a good heart wrenching tale, a good suspense, or even a book that doesn’t have a happy ending, but when I am faced with a theme that is so very close to my own problems, and enters such a grey zone for me, I find it a little disconcerting to truly call this light reading. This book struck a very sensitive cord for me, and it took me a while to write up this review. As I was reading this book, I kept hoping Will would change his mind. I can’t even begin to imagine the horrors someone in his position must face on a daily basis, but having him end his life was so final, and also so selfish. I kept thinking of his family, and mostly Lou, and how this would affect them, and could not believe he would continue on this path. Ending a life is not a decision to take lightly. In this book it wasn’t dealt with lightly, but it is something I feel in society today is such a viable option. Life is such a precious gift, and to end it is never without consequences. I don’t say this in a judgmental way, I speak from experience. When I was just shy of 16, my father decided to end his life. He left us all in a very precarious situation, and I remember thinking over and over, how could he not love me enough to live for me. So when Lou asks Will that exact same question in the book, I could not deny how close to home this book hit.
To a certain point I can understand Will’s decision, but one must never forget the people who stay behind. This book almost makes it all seem ok. Lou is left behind, but she is sitting on a terrace in Paris sipping a drink reading a lovely letter from Will, and all will be well. In reality, all will not be well, not for a very long time. When you love someone, and they decide they love you, but not enough to live for you, that feeling takes time to work through. In Lou and Will’s case you can maybe put that into perspective as he made his decision long before he met her, but still he left behind his mother, father and sister. They have to find a way to move past that, and get on with life after burying him.
I wonder sometimes when someone is so down, that suicide seems like the only viable option, if one is even in the right state of mind to even see the real consequences of one’s actions. How can you even predict how your actions will affect the people you love? Who is to say that Will’s mother won’t turn into a drunk after his death? She had to give up her job already. These are all things that take their toll following such a devastating decision.
I haven’t seen the movie yet, but my fear is that Hollywood will blow it into this wonderful, great, “we should all kill ourselves when we can’t deal with the hand life has dealt us”. For me that is not heroic, that is just sad. To me the real heroes in this scenario are the people who have been dealt a similar fate like Will, but have accepted it, embraced it even, and have learned to make their life beautiful. Lou met several of these people in an online support group, and I can only imagine there are people out there, who despite the tragedy they have faced, have picked themselves up, stared life in the eye, and have shouted out, I WILL NOT GIVE UP! That is truly heroic, and really inspirational. I hope the world will look to those people and acknowledge their drive, their will to live as something to be encouraged.
Note: This book is a fairly clean read. Some of the language is not so clean, swear words are used, but to me it was not so offensive, that I felt I could not read on. That being said, I wish to give this warning, as it is not 100% free of foul language.
Also I feel this book does try to highlight every aspect of the choice of this very delicate subject, and does give a broad perspective. I once again wish to stress that I can’t judge any choice, but can only speak from personal experience, and that has given me a little perspective to how the people left behind feel when someone they love decides to end their life. I think this is definitely worth the read, to give you the perspective of this delicate matter, and will possibly help you form your own opinion.
About the Author
Jojo Moyes is a British novelist.
Moyes studied at Royal Holloway, University of London. She won a bursary financed by The Independent newspaper to study journalism at City University and subsequently worked for The Independent for 10 years. In 2001 she became a full time novelist.
Moyes’ novel Foreign Fruit won the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) Romantic Novel of the Year in 2004.
She is married to journalist Charles Arthur and has three children.