A Love Story Me Before You: A+ Book Review

Searching for a captivating love story, I needed a book on the plane when no electronics were allowed. I picked up Me Before You at the airport in Nadi, Fiji.  I had a five-hour wait at the airport and the twelve-hour flight home to Los Angeles. It rated as #2 in the airport corner store. I read the back cover, bought it, and took it to one of the airport couches to read while my iPad charged.

Amazon gives Me Before You, a contemporary romance, a rating range of #49-92 out of hundreds of thousands, so I think I picked well. What I did not expect was that I would not put it down until I finished it.

Love story Me Before You

Reviewers Disagreed About Me Before You

Readers disagreed about whether or not they liked Me Before You, and I can understand both sides of the arguments.

Personally, I like a love story that moves me to tears, and this one did. However, Jojo Moyes probably had an agenda writing this book. The hero of the story, Will Traynor, Superman personified, determines that his new quadriplegic life is not worth the breath it takes to live it, and unsuccessfully tries to commit suicide. After surviving his first attempt, he promises that he will give his parents six more months of his time.

The Characters in Me Before You

Superman’s mother, a judge, hires unlikely Louisa Clark to help change his mind about trying to commit suicide again.  She reminds me of Leonard Hofstadter’s mother on Big Bang Theory. Will’s father is too busy having a love affair to take much interest in his son’s collapsed life. Louisa finds out the six-month probation period Will gave his parents only by accident – after she has fallen in love with him.

Louisa’s home and personal relationships exacerbate her inferiority complexes. She works slavishly to help support her family financially with little personal benefit. Her father is a working slouch and somewhat verbally abusive while her mother cares for Louisa’s grandfather and adores Louisa’s older sister, Treena, and her child. Other than when Treena gives Louisa the advice that starts the story moving, her presence did not add value to Louisa’s life. Her boyfriend dotes on himself and blinks awake at Louisa’s presence only after he meets Louisa’s quadriplegic patient, Will, at her birthday party.

Louisa falls out of love with her fitness trainer boyfriend into the quadriplegic arms that can’t hold her. Had Will Traynor been whole, she might never have appealed to him. He was too many steps above her in the social chain. The question Louisa faces is whether she is enough for him – NOW. He already pushed the “perfect girl” away after his accident. Can Louisa satisfy his needs and stop him from ending his life?

Even knowing the probable end, I think readers hope beyond hope for love to thrive. They want Will to live and love Louisa. The question Moyes used to challenge us throughout the book was whether or not there is ever a justification for suicide.

Moral Issue and Questions in Me Before You

Me Before You made me think.

Are families better off if they don’t have to care for a person 24/7? Is it better to take care of details on your own time and leave the pain behind on your schedule? Do severely handicapped persons contribute nothing to society?

A moral issue is at stake. Assisted suicide is not legal. When is it ok to break the law? The biblical beliefs that influence our laws reject suicide. Who is in charge of life, God or man?

Will Traynor tried to commit suicide after his accident. He pushed help away. He could not accept the limitations placed on him by his life. He lived with extreme pain.

But Will’s life for the six-months trial period benefitted Louisa more than his death would have. Louisa loved Will. He made her think and gave her confidence. She blossomed as Will introduced her to a different life than she could afford on her own. Was Will’s death wish fair to Louisa?

Was Will’s thinking correct? Had Louisa thought through life with a person with quadriplegia? Would she be able to handle the continued life of caring for a person with quadriplegia in declining health after the glow of new love wore off? In her state of being in love, no amount of persuasion would have convinced her that she couldn’t. In life, things change.

Was Will’s wish to commit suicide fair to his parents? His father remained in his marriage while Will lived, but would caring for Will indefinitely rekindle his parents’ love for each other? While he lived, his mother stayed in a career she loved, but would her legal career survive helping her son commit suicide?

Will could not know how things would work out whether or not he committed suicide. Would the pain lessen over time? Could he continue to tolerate the pain if it did not? Would someone find a miraculous cure for spinal injuries? Would someone make a caregiving mistake that would cost his life ahead of Will’s planned assisted suicide? Would God forgive him if he committed suicide? Would God forgive those who endorsed his wish? Could Louisa’s love tide him through the bad times? Would he hold her back from a fuller life?

It is interesting to imagine the book with alternate endings. Me Before You raises more questions than it gives answers. The sparks of love move the book forward in an unstoppable way.

 

love story

Jojo Moyes, author of Me Before You

Amazon’s Biographical Statement

Jojo Moyes is a British novelist.

Moyes studied at Royal Holloway, University of London. She won a scholarship financed by The Independent newspaper to study journalism at City University and subsequently worked for The Independent for ten years. In 2001 she became a full-time novelist.

Moyes’ novel Foreign Fruit won the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) Romantic Novel of the Year in 2004.

She is married to journalist Charles Arthur and has three children.

-from Goodreads’ Biography.

 

 

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