Sunday, January 6, 2013

Book Review: "Me Before You" by Jojo Moyes

Sobbing. This book turned me into an emotional mess, and even though I knew it probably would before I started reading it, I'm tremendously glad I did.

Louisa Clark has led a fairly uneventful life. She lives with her parents, grandfather, sister, and nephew in the English town where she grew up, enjoys her job as a waitress at a local cafe, and has been dating Patrick, a personal trainer, for a number of years. She's never considered herself the "kind of person" who would enjoy movies with subtitles, classical music concerts, or really going beyond her comfort zone.

When the cafe closes suddenly, Louisa finds herself in a state of flux. Her family is dependent upon her income, and with the world in an economic crisis, jobs are hard to come by, especially for someone with virtually no experience doing anything else. After a number of unsuccessful tries in unappealing jobs, she is hired to be an assistant to a recently paralyzed man, at a higher salary than she has made previously, despite the fact she has never done anything of the sort.

Will Traynor was a ruthless businessman at the top of his game. He bought and sold companies, making tons of money, traveled the world to visit all of the exotic places he had always dreamed of, pushed his limits with extreme sports and challenges, and dated the most beautiful women. And then a motorcycle accident leaves him a quadriplegic, angry at the world for all he can no longer do, and having no desire to continue living.

Will intimidates Louisa, even in his current state. He doesn't want yet another caregiver telling him what would be good for him to do, especially one with no experience or self-esteem. Yet the two begin a relationship of mutual respect and friendship, albeit slowly and sometimes grudgingly. When Louisa realizes that she could be the catalyst to changing Will's outlook on life and his desire to keep on living, she does everything in her power to make that happen, not understanding the toll it will take on her life and her relationships—not to mention how it will affect Will.

This is a tremendously moving story, even if it follows a somewhat traditional path. You know that Will and Louisa will dislike each other at first, that she'll consider quitting her job, and that ultimately, she'll break through his shell. But even as things you anticipate will happen actually do, the characters Jojo Moyes created, and the emotions she has imbued them with, will find their way into your heart. The book is funny at times, frustrating at times, but really fulfilling, and there are certainly some surprises in store.

I have said many times before that I'm a total emotional sap when it comes to books like this, but even as it left me with tears dripping down my face, it's a story I can't stop thinking about. And it's one I wholeheartedly recommend, and would love to hear what others think. Read it!

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