Title: Me Before You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Published by: The Penguin Group
Genres: Adult, Romance, Realistic Fiction
In-Series/Stand Alone: In series, followed by the sequel titled “After You”
“The thing about being catapulted into a whole new life — or at least, shoved up so hard against someone else’s life that you might as well have your face pressed against their window — is that it forces you to rethink your idea of who you are.” (p. 58)
Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life — steady boyfriend, close family — who has barely been farther afield than her tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life — big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel — and he is not interested in exploring a new one.
Will is acerbic, moody, bossy — but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, Lou sets out to show him that life is still worth living.
Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common — a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?
As an avid reader, going on a reading hiatus that feels a million years long by the time it’s over is exhausting. For the last couple of months, I’ve been so distracted with college applications and final exams that I’ve barely glanced at the bookshelf sitting in the corner of my room, housing novels that haven’t been so much as touched since they arrived in a big brown box in the mail. But now that it’s January (I still can’t believe it’s 2017) and my workload seems to have come to a standstill, I’ve got time on my hands to do what I love most in the world: read. I was wary about choosing the wrong book to start off with, in case it led to longer periods of detachment from reading; but Me Before You destroyed any doubts I had the moment I opened its bright red cover.
The story begins with Louisa Clark, an average twenty-six-year-old British woman who lost her job at The Buttered Bun after its owner decided to shut the place down. For the six years that she worked there, she grew comfortable to the constant chatter with the cafe’s regulars and the familiar routine of making tea and watching people come in and out of its doors. Desperately in need of a new job, especially because her parents and sister relied on her salary, she finally set out to become a temporary caregiver for wheelchair-ridden Will Traynor.
Paralyzed from the neck down and unable to even feed himself, Will’s previous life as a major corporate player who bought and sold companies and climbed mountains and explored the ends of the world in his spare time — was irreversibly over. This led him to believe that his new life, spent entirely in the care of others — was worthless. Louisa, with her bright and bubbly personality and funny mismatched clothes, is the polar opposite of her employer, who is sarcastic and angry and grim. At first, they resent one another for these differences, but with time begin to enjoy each other’s company. Each for the other’s sake, Louisa and Will begin to push beyond their comfort zones and in turn, change each other in ways that neither could have anticipated.
This book utterly and completely encompassed me — it was like receiving a never-ending hug. I related to Louisa in a way I hadn’t been able to relate to a character in a very long time — she was an ordinary girl living an ordinary life, happy in her monotonous routine of home-to-work-work-to-home. She led herself to believe that this was it for her; she was not “built” for the adventures outside her little town. And she was accustomed to always putting herself last — focusing entirely on the needs of others, not realizing that she deserved that same kind of love in return. Her gradual change as she broke free of these shackles that confined her to her ordinary life was so inspiring — I felt as though I was growing with her, my perspective shifting as she too began to realize that life had so much more to offer, and all she had to do was be willing to delve into her potential and see what would come of it.
If I had to choose only one thing I love about Jojo Moyes’ writing, it would have to be her amazing ability to build realistic dynamics between her characters. The relationship between Louisa and her sister Treena stood out as one of these — one moment, they were at each other’s throats and the next they had their feet propped up against the wall, lying side by side and bonding. There was Will’s mother, the stiff and worried Camilla, who Louisa was intimidated by beyond belief but also understood and empathized with, in a sense. There were Will’s interactions with his colleagues and friends that he’d known before his accident, and his concealed hurt and frustration at how their lives had continued while his seemed to remain frozen in place. And of course, Will and Lou, who made this book what it ultimately was meant to be: a love story. There’s a conversation between them that sticks out most to me, where Louisa mentions how if Will’s accident had never happened and he’d been the man he was before, he’d never have thrown a second glance in her direction. She would’ve been “invisible” to him, just another stranger in the crowd. It made me really think about all the moments in my life I’ve wished never happened — but if they hadn’t, would the people I have in my life today still be here? Would I even have met them in the first place?
Me Before You is real, just like this life we’re living is real, whether we like it or not. It’s not a book about “opposites attract” and how they fall in love within the first 100 pages — it’s a gradual but beautiful buildup toward a heartbreaking but truthful reality. This novel ultimately left me inspired to push myself — to never settle. To not just survive, but live boldly. Just live.
*ME BEFORE YOU: MOVIE REVIEW, W/OUT SPOILERS*
Release Date: May 23, 2016 (USA)
Directed by: Thea Sharrock
Based on: The novel of the same name
Distributed by: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, New Line Cinema
Running Time: 1h 50m
Rating: PG-13: Contains thematic elements and some suggestive material.
I had seen the trailer for this film in 2016, around the time it was first released and meant to read the book before it came out in May, but never got around to it. Nonetheless, I was excited — Emilia Clarke was already one of my favorite actresses (Game of Thrones fans, can we have a moment to appreciate how amazing Daenerys Targaryen is?) and I adored Sam Claflin as Finnick in The Hunger Games and as Alex in Love Rosie.
I decided to see the movie immediately after finishing the book, and I was amazed at how much of the dialogue from the book was translated onto the script. I still had the novel fresh in my mind, and the movie did not disappoint in the sense that it was an accurate portrayal of the characters and the story itself. Although it did lack in some storylines (which I won’t delve into because spoilers!!) it managed to capture the same magic and chemistry between our two main characters that I’d felt when I was reading.
Unfortunately, the movie failed to dig deeper into the relationships between all the characters, which was what I’d loved most about this story in the first place. It seemed a bit rushed, too fast-paced for my liking — hence the 7.5/10 stars. Some of the filler scenes were unnecessary; and could’ve replaced with more bonding between the characters so that the audience got a true sense of their personalities.
All in all though, it was a beautifully made film with excellent taste in music — whoever chose Ed Sheeran to be on the playlist is my hero. The scenery corresponded so well with the gradual change of the mood, and Louisa’s strange and quirky clothes were definitely something to marvel at.
I’d highly recommend reading the book first if you want to get a full-fledged feel of the story. However, the movie on its own is a cute, heartwarming time-pass for a cozy night in with the people you love.
Favorite Quotes From The Novel:
“You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”
“Some mistakes… Just have greater consequences than others. But you don’t have to let the result of one mistake be the thing that defines you. You, Clark, have the choice not to let that happen.”
“Do you know how hard it is to say nothing? When every atom of you strains to do the opposite?”
“You cut yourself off from all sorts of experiences because you tell yourself you are ‘not that sort of person’.”
“But, I’m not.”
“How do you know? You’ve done nothing, been nowhere. How do you have the faintest idea what kind of person you are?”
“I hadn’t realized that music could unlock things in you, could transport you to somewhere even the composer hadn’t predicted. It left an imprint in the air around you, as if you carried its remnants with you when you went.”
“All I can say is that you make me… you make me into someone I couldn’t even imagine. You make me happy, even when you’re awful. I would rather be with you – even the you that you seem to think is diminished – than with anyone else in the world.”
“I will never, ever regret the things I’ve done. Because most days, all you have are places in your memory that you can go to.”
*DISCLAIMER* Please try to refrain from mentioning any spoilers in the comments section. If you’d like to talk about the film in depth, feel free to contact me 😊