Move over, Nicholas Sparks. Jojo Moyes’ novel Me Before You is the tear-jerker you never know you had to read. When Louisa Clark loses her job, she finds herself with no job, no money, and living at home with a family that depends on her for survival. She’s presented with a new job opportunity she has no desire, or qualifications, to take but simply cannot turn down. At 26, Louisa lives a monotonous life she is content with. A self-proclaimed plain Jane with an outlandish wardrobe, Lou resides in a sleepy town and lacks any form of adventure. She loved her old job at the local cafe, as a notable chatterbox the customers loved her. But in her new job, her employers aren’t so easy.
Camilla Traynor hires Lou as a caretaker for her quadriplegic, 365 year old son. After being hit by a motorcycle, the former adventure-junky has been confined to a wheel chair and a life he has no control over. The past two years of his condition have left him bitter, angry and without the will to live. Lou’s job as a caretaker, she later finds out, isn’t for medical purposes, but to boost his spirits and incite something more in the wealthy Traynor families’ son, Will.
Starting this job without much desire for anything other than a paycheck, Lou tries very little to befriend Will, who instantly dislikes her. That is, until she finds out more about Will’s past and what his future may hold. Her task at hand is to improve the present, to make Will realize his life is worth living, or his entire future may be at stake.
With her natural quirky personality, Lou eventually gets Will to warm up to her and even take a liking to her. Upon learning Lou has never left Britain, Will hopes to make her realize there is more to life than her dull routine. Lou uses this to her advantage, using her own adventures as a bargaining chip to take Will along with her as she begins to take more chances. With Will’s condition, daily outings are no easy task, but before long, Will and Lou have a trust and friendship like no other.
Although it’s Lou’s mission to help Will, the tables turn and what Lou ends with is her own valuable lessons from Will. To live boldly, take chances, try new things, see the world.
The book is written in a way that is light and relatable, which is no easy feat as the themes within the book are heavy hitting. But for all the darkness that is almost palpable in Will’s being, there’s three times as much light in Lou. The humor and narrative of Lou puts a new perspective on a heartbreaking situation.
Louisa’s character is highly likable and relatable. Being forced into an unthinkable situation, she works hard to give Will a life worth living. With Will, she’s faced with the toughest decision of her life and is ultimately faced with a moral dilemma not many of us can understand. There’s no doubt that Lou is working to change Will’s life, but how Will begins to change hers is what will keep you flipping the page.. and wiping away incessant tears.
Time for the classic debate: Do you prefer the book or the movie?