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After Lou Clark loses her job at a cafe, she gets hired for a term of six months as a non-medical caregiver to a quadriplegic man named Will Traynor. Two years ago before he was hit by a motorcycle while trying cross the street, the wealthy thirty-five year-old had everything going for him from a high-profile job, a beautiful girlfriend, and a love of international travel and extreme sports. Now, he has lost everything of the man he was and he can't do anything on his own without help; he lives a joyless life. When Lou comes into his life as his hired companion, her infectious outlook on life begins to rub off on him and his world begins to brighten little by little.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes has been recommended to me many times, but I didn't really know much about it and I wasn't all that interested in it either, mostly because it didn't seem like my sort of story. That changed when I saw the trailer. I can easily say that I was hooked as soon as I saw the trailer with what looked like a compelling story, intriguing characters, and a brilliant cast. I finally decided to hop on the bandwagon and see if the book really did live up to the hype - and for the most part it did. I'd also like to mention that Moyes deals with controversial subject matter well and does a decent job of presenting both sides. Spoilers, though, I didn't cry.
In this story, Moyes does a fantastic job of creating and fleshing out our two leads, Lou and Will. Both feel entirely real and believable, right down to their multitude of flaws. Of course, Lou is the most relatable being an average person from an average family, in comparison to the wealthy, posh Will. It's hard to believe they're from the same world, let alone the fact that they live in the same town. That being said Will is my favorite of the two of them - I could really feel for him through Lou's eyes. However, I have a feeling I wouldn't have liked him nearly as much if I had really gotten to know him before the accident - from what we learn of him before he sounds like too much of a playboy for me to fully support.
As you can imagine, both Will and Lou transform a good deal over the course of the story due to the other's influence on them over the course of the six month contract. Will goes from wanting nothing to do with Lou (and living his life) to realize that he's beginning to fall for a girl unlike any he's met before and wanting to make the most of what he has. Lou, perhaps, undergoes an even greater change from being a sad sack just floating through life with no aspirations of her own to actually beginning to live for the first time in years. Each of the main characters begin to thrive as a result of the other's company; they are both very good for each other.
For the most part the supporting characters are well done, too. I, for one, enjoyed Lou's family dynamic with her mother, father, grandfather, sister, and nephew. Will's parents had their moments, but they have nothing on Lou's family - the Traynors' are quite worryingly distant, to put it mildly - at times making me question exactly how much they cared about their son's mental and emotional well-being. In regards to Lou's relationships, one that I found myself the most perplexed by was her relationship with her longtime boyfriend, Patrick. I know they've been together for years, but still he's so unlike Lou and kind of difficult to like - making me like Will all the more.
In regards to the format, it's almost exclusively told from Lou's perspective, aside from Will's during the prologue, his parents, Camilla and Steven, plus his medical caregiver, Nathan. Each has a single POV chapter at intervals in the story. Of them, I really liked Will's prologue POV, but while I enjoyed the change of pace they just didn't seem to fit. I would have preferred to have had a more regular shift in perspective throughout the novel, or to have seen it all through Lou's eyes except for that prologue. Although, I will admit the quick glimpse we get into Nathan's head is actually pretty well done. If there was another perspective to the book (aside from Will's) his is the one that I would have been most interested in exploring further.
Overall, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes is an engaging and emotional read, that while not my usual genre absolutely captured my interest from page one. I may not have actually cried (I must be one tough cookie to make it through with dry eyes...), but the novel certainly tugged at my heartstrings (it's definitely not made of stone, I just don't cry much when it comes to books). I highly recommend this contemporary romance, even if it's not part of your go-to genre as it is certainly a must-read. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie adaptation, and I expect that I will actually need a box of tissues to make it through seeing it in all of its heart-wrenching glory on the big screen. All that said, I still haven't decided if I want to read the sequel, After You - I actually enjoyed coming to the bittersweet and hopeful conclusion of Lou's story, and I'm not sure if I want to take it any further, at the moment that is.
I read this novel from April 11 - 12, 2016 and my review is also on Goodreads.