Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

I knew that this book would be heartbreaking, especially when I saw the film trailer, so I put off reading it for the longest time. It was time to rip off the plaster. 

Also, Lou’s character in the film wears the same Irregular Choice shoes I wear. I had to show solidarity… 

From the blurb:

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their 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 now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

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, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

Lou Clark is not an ordinary girl. She’s from a working class family, living in a small tourist town, and has a job working in a local cafe. Lou has put her dreams and passions on hold, sacrificing her life to help look after her family.

Lou’s younger and much brighter sister has always been the star of the family, even when she got pregnant and had to quit university.  Lou’s mum quit working to look after her dad, when he had a stroke. Lou’s dad is pretty sure he’s going to lose his job. The whole family relies on Lou’s wage to keep them ticking over, and she is happy to help … until she loses her job. 

It turns out working in a cafe for 7 years doesn’t really make you qualified for much. Lou tries her hand at sales, fast food and working in a chicken factory but nothing really sticks. A strange opportunity comes along, for Lou to act as companion and carer for a man who had been paralysed in a car accident 2 years previously. Lou is intimidated, but after being reassured she wouldn’t have to deal with any medical issues, she accepts the short term 6 month contract. It’s not like she has many other options.

Will Traynor used to be a big cheese in London, and a globe-trotting action man in his spare time. A C5/6 spinal injury has left him almost completely paralysed. Unable to accept a life where he has no control over his body or decisions, Will wants to end his life. 

After a horrifying suicide attempt, Will’s parents have agreed that if he still wants to end his life in 6 months time, they will accompany him to Dignitas.

Lou is at first unaware of Will’s plans; she doesn’t know why Will is so rude to her, and finds her new job miserable. But as she gets to know Will, she finds an unlikely friend. Will she be able to change his mind?

Just warning you, you will cry. I am sat here typing this review with tears running down my face.  This book is beautiful, sad, funny, touching and thought provoking. 

Moyes has clearly done a lot of research on quadriplegia, and it shows. Arguments for and against assisted suicide are well presented throughout the book, without detracting from the story. 

It’s not as grim as it sounds, there are some genuinely laugh out loud moments, particularly with Lou’s family, and her boyfriend Patrick is a character you will love to hate. 

Let me know your thoughts on the comments below.

Cheerio (sob)!

Stephani Xxx 

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