Book Review: Me Before You

Thursday 11 February 2016 by

Me Before You, Jojo Moyes, Penguin, Book, ReadingMe Before You by Jojo Moyes

Published by Penguin

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.

~*~

We already know that Me Before You isn’t always my first choice of genre to read. But the new film is hotly anticipated, and I thought I’d give it a chance.

Lou Clark finds her life turned upside down when she loses her job at the local tea shop. Soon, she takes a job as a carer for Will – who is a paraplegic and has lost the will to live. As days turn to weeks, Will and Lou find their lives changing the more time they spend to one another. When Lou finds out that Will has decided to end his life within 6 months, she makes it her mission to change his mind.

So begins a love story that already has a time limit. This is not going to be a happy ending if Will has his way, and with a really happy ending if Lou gets hers. I think most people have probably read this book by now, so you should know the ending, but I’ll try not to give too much away just in case.

The trouble with romantic fiction like this, it tends to lean towards the schmaltzy. The main character tends to be goofy and awkward (often clumsy), and the romantic interest tends to be aloof and preferably rich, who gradually (or secretly) falls for the protagonist’s charms. This sound about right? Well, Me Before You does fall in to this trap. It has the unpleasant boyfriend, the witty back-and-forth dialogue, the heartfelt sisterly support – it has it all.

But what’s different about this book is the set-up. Will is determinedly heading towards assisted dying, which instantly changes the dynamic of the love story, and the relationship is drastically tilted because of the circumstances. I think that’s why this book has worked so well – because it’s not the run-of-the-mill sugary romance. There is a more serious layer running underneath it and that’s what hooks you in and keeps you reading.

This is mostly a fluffy, light-hearted novel that proves an easy read. But don’t read the last few chapters in public, because you will cry. It’s sweet – not terrible and not totally saccharine, but equally the perfect romance novel. A good Valentine’s read, or if you need a good cry.

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