(Review published September 3,2016)
I’m a bit late to the party for this book. I saw it a couple of months ago when it popped up in my bookstore on the bestseller shelf. I thought it was just the usual bubblegum romance of a quirky girl and a cold-blooded guy. Well, it is….but also isn’t.
From this point on, there are SPOILERS so if you have not read this book/seen this movie, I ask that you exit…
…..Still here? Alright then…
When I started reading the Me Before You I already knew what it was about before the prologue was over. Or rather I assumed I did. I was correct for the most part right until….the end when I got what I wanted and was heartbroken over it.
The synopsis is Louisa Clark being fired from her job as a waitress, one she’s held for many years and thus left at a loss of what to do. A great part of me was ready to hate Louisa with her pickiness about jobs, but then something really resonated with me. I realize she really was an every girl. We can talk about doing whatever we can to help our families and remain financially stable, but in practice we’re actually quite picky. Add to the fact that her family does not think very much of her skills yet are quite dependent on her income and you have a situation that is becoming more and more commonplace in our society. Yet she does try hard and for that…I don’t hate Louisa. I couldn’t.
Enter William Traynor and it all gets fairly cliche. Their initial meeting was fun and hilarious, though their further interactions left a lot to be desired. I suppose since we were viewing this from Louisa’s point of view majority of the time while Will remained a stiff caricature throughout most of the story and I cannot tell if this is genius or if this is just bad writing. William’s character is clichely defined by his injuries up until the end yet somehow it works well, but…it feels like there was entire chunk of the story missing that would humanize William Traynor and make him…well…real.
I believe that was my main complaint about this book. Where Louisa was a real person for me, Will was little more than a plot device for Louisa to evolve from. He was a mere catalyst rather than having his own motivations and emotions. Even when it is stressed that he hates people deciding things for him or attempting to take his options away the way the wreck did, it seemed more of a kicking and screaming attempt to say “see I have depth; I’m a real boy.”
The only saving point of Will’s character is the ending. The ending is what humanized Will because it showed him for who he was and how he wished to take life into his own hands as he always had. It cemented him as a character to make the choice he did to kill himself rather than allow his love for Louisa to change his mind. If anything, Louisa’s love for him and his love for her is what made his decision clearer and more expected. I was not disappointed by this ending. If anything…it was a strong and stable ending that remained true to the characters JoJo Moyes sought to portray.
Many have taken it out of context to mean that if you are “damaged” in the way that your quality of life is forever diminished then you should chose death. I believe that these people are simply looking for something to be wrong with something popular. Will’s choice to kill himself was a human one, one a lot of us would not have the resolve to make because in his mind he knew that loving Louisa would never be enough. It would never be enough because he could not hold her in his arms at will, could not kiss her when he desired to, could not be the lover he could’ve been had that fateful night turned out differently. Knowing this, Louisa’s love for him as he was then and the lesser ways he felt he could love her as a paraplegic would’ve only been more cause for guilt and pain.
Louisa’s respect for his choice was a show of true love. While painful to herself, she allowed Will his choice…for the first time in the entire book.
This is the first time I’ve read a novel where Love was not enough. That realism is why even though the writing was barebones mostly, — and it was hamfisted about Louisa’s rape (though I felt it was quite unnecessary to the plot for this to have even been presented) — Me Before You successfully conveyed the story of two people who finally allowed themselves to make their own choices.
In the end, I quite enjoyed it. It was a quick read that I finished in a day and I did love Louisa’s character which is quite a feat since I hate most female characters in romance novels. I won’t be reading After You. I read the synopsis and I find I don’t appreciate the direction Louisa’s character is going to be taking after the strength she showed in Me Before You.
Hope you enjoy the book as well as my opinion on it!
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