Sunday, December 8, 2013
Me Before You
by Jojo Moyes
This novel is one my daughter insisted I read. I am happy she did. I actually finished it back on December 8th, but you know how the holiday seasons are...
The story starts with an ordinary girl needing a new job when her steady job comes to an end with the closing of a cafe. She takes a temporary job as a companion to a quadriplegic man. A job that she finds distasteful, not because of his disability but because of his nasty attitude toward everything.
While I just referred to Louisa as "ordinary" I found her to be even "less" than ordinary. She seemed to be a girl with no dreams, no ambition and existing as part of a relationship that seemed to have no foundation or affection. I felt she wanted to just blend into the background and not be noticed.
Will, on the other hand, may be forgiven, or perhaps understood, for his nasty attitude because the accident that caused him to become a quadriplegic took so much from him. Having grown up as a rich and privileged child he was used to living his life in the fast lane. Being confined to a mechanical chair was hardly how he viewed his future.
The mixture of Louisa and Will is difficult. Will has a male nurse who appears to be the only person he tolerates in his life, making his disdain for Louisa even more apparent. She reconsiders her position as his companion and she wants to quit. But she stays on, often against her better judgement, torn between avoiding Will or trying to engage him in his own life.
As the story develops so do the characters as we begin to peel away the layers they have wrapped protectively around themselves. Louisa looks for ways to help Will enjoy life, while Will is determined that life is not worth living. Louisa becomes desperate to prove Will wrong any way she can.
This was a well told story with some serious tissue alerts. My daughter asked me about the title when I finished it. I hadn't noticed until she asked that it could be read two ways. Me Before You, as in 'who I was before I met you' or Me Before You as in 'putting myself first before you.' It became an interesting question and one I still ponder a little. There is still the question, who is the 'Me' and who is the 'You?'
I give Me Before You five shots of five. I look forward to reading more by Jojo Moyes.