Review of “Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes

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I laughed and cried. I felt hope and despair and elation and fear. At times I wanted to put the book in the freezer. [This analogy comes from the “Friends” episode in which Rachel offers to put Little Women in the freezer for Joey, who wants to stop something from happening and/or reading that it did!] I felt ALL THE FEELINGS.

feel-all-the-feelings

What I especially loved is that when the 26-year-old heroine, Louisa (“Lou”) feels angry or sad or horrified or haunted or betrayed or happy or shy or awkward or ecstatic – whatever her state of mind, we were absolutely made to feel it also. I believe that talent by the author for conveying emotions and for making us feel them too, is what gives this book so much power.

Lou works as a caregiver for Will Traynor, a 35-year-old C5-6 quadriplegic, who, before his accident, lived an intense and active life as the head of a company specializing in “crushing people in business deals.” His idea of a vacation was pushing himself to his physical limits. Now, his physical limits are crushing him.

As an ever-present background in the book, the author provides a striking picture of what quadriplegics have to endure, not only in terms of the overwhelming physical and mental effects of profound injuries, and not only because of the awkward reactions of abled people who are uncomfortable in their presence, but even with respect to the difficulties of trying to navigate in a world designed for the able-bodied. She takes us through the heartbreak, frustration, humiliation, and fury, as well as the occasional triumphs and moments when Will is treated as a man instead of someone [or something] repulsive or offensive or a bother or a reminder of our vulnerability and mortality that we don’t want to have. Moyes captures all of this beautifully and with exceptional compassion. If it aids in changing readers understanding of and response to paralyzing conditions, this alone would justify the book.

I don’t want to say too much more about what this story is about, because it might be spoilery. It’s a love story, with two unlikely partners, and it is full of humor and joy and sorrow and ALL THE THINGS.

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It’s about life and grabbing it by the horns and living it as fully as one can. It’s about the right to choose what you want out of life, and what gives you that freedom or takes it away. It’s a comedy of manners or lack thereof. More specifically, I’ll insert a brief more descriptive but possibly spoilery sentence here, comparing it to other books, which you can mouse over if you like.

Imagine a British-accented mash-up of Silver Linings Playbook and The Fault In Our Stars and the movie “Pretty Woman” and Erich Segal’s Love Story.

I’ve got just one piece of dialogue for you, to give you an idea of why these characters are so irresistible. In this scene, Lou is upset, and her sister Treena goes to her bedroom:

There was a knock on the door.

I blew my nose. ‘Piss off, Katrina.’

‘I’m sorry.’

I stared at the door.

Her voice was muffled, as if her lips were close up to the keyhole. ‘I’ve got wine. Look, let me in, for God’s sake, or Mum will hear me. I’ve got two Bob the Builder mugs stuck up my sweater, and you know how she gets about us drinking upstairs.’

I climbed off the bed and opened the door.”

Evaluation: I loved this book. Highly recommended!

Rating: 5/5

Published in the United States by Viking Penguin, a member of the Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2012

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21 Responses to Review of “Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes

  1. Iris says:

    I have read previous books by Moyes, and always (as in, the two times I read one) felt a little surprised at how much I was enjoying them. However, I was never fully convinced. I think I may have to give this a try..

  2. BermudaOnion says:

    Wow, I can tell you adored this book! It’s nice to see the author handles disabilities well.

  3. Brooke says:

    I love seeing fellow bloggers give this book such high praise. I’m so picky with anything vaguely resembling romance. But this book was just such an enchanting, charming, heartbreaking, and realistic story. So glad you enjoyed!

  4. Beth F says:

    I don’t know why, but I’m resistant. I haven’t really wanted to read this despite all the buzz.

  5. sandynawrot says:

    YES YES YES! God I love your review. It is beautiful, and this book is beautiful, and it is the type of book that makes you realize WHY YOU READ. And your spoilery highlight? Perfection. I couldn’t have described it any better.

  6. Trying to remember if I’ve seen anything other than a 5 star rating for this one… it’s on my must read list!

  7. Awesome! I simply adored this book – the first couple of chapters seemed so stereotypical that I almost put the book down, but then this really original, beautiful story blooms out of it and it kept me hooked until the very end.

    And yes, I cried.

  8. Gayle says:

    Totally agree! What a great book. I loved Will as a character – he has stayed with me.

  9. Athira says:

    I’m sorry to say that I put this book down after the first chapter. For some reason, it didn’t connect with me. I guess I need to give it one more try. Everyone seems to love it.

  10. I loved this one, too – your review is making me want to reread it, although I’m not sure my emotions could handle it!

  11. Heather says:

    Woohoo!!! I loved this one too. One of my favorites from this year, I can’t stop recommending it! So happy you loved it. 🙂

  12. Fabulous! I’m glad to see we are in agreement on this one. So much love.

  13. Rita K says:

    I read this while driving to and from Niagara Falls with Melody and Mike. It was terrific! I will try to send you my full ideas about it when I get back home.

  14. stacybuckeye says:

    Why do I come here when I know you are going to make me want to read books I have no time for? It must be love. This was already on my wish list but you’ve made me want to start it tomorrow. And I can’t 😦

  15. YES! I made a note for myself to get this one and take it on my trip up north!!

  16. bookingmama says:

    It was definitely an emotional read for me too!

  17. Trish says:

    I didn’t know anything about this one going in and was really reluctant to want to like it but then about 150 pages in BAM! Yes, I felt ALL the things and then sobbed in Starbucks while I read the last 50 pages of the book. And absolutely agree that the tenderness that Moyes writes with was beautiful.

  18. Rachel says:

    I have got to read this – I’ve heard so many good things about it. I love the cute pictures you included.

  19. Love the quote you shared. I agree with everything you said – the author did a marvelous job. A girl in book club has a sister in law who is a quadriplegic who has also tried to commit suicide when it first happened to her as well,

  20. litandlife says:

    I jumped here from Care’s review – how did I miss your review before??? Oh yeah, probably because I thought I knew what this book was and thought, okay KNEW, I had no interest in reading it. Until I did. And loved it, too!

  21. Lisa Munley says:

    I loved this book, too. I also jumped over from Care’s blog.

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