Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – Book Review

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This was an amazing, emotional and beautiful book. I knew, before I even started it that it was going to be a real tear-jerker. But it was so much more than that. It made me laugh and fall in love with the characters. It made me think, it challenged me to ask questions about myself and my life and the way I view the world. I loved it so much, but it also broke my heart and made me bitter.

This was a story about love and self-discovery; about pain and loss. It was a bold novel, I would say. It was honest, and at times a bit difficult to read because it brought the reality of what it means to be a quadriplegic, to be a prisoner of your own body, unable to do anything on your own.

I really enjoyed the setting – a small English town. There aren’t that many books that I read that are set in England (probably because I read so many high fantasy books), so I really enjoyed this aspect of it. I enjoyed all the English-isms very much.

They’ve made a film now as well. Just based on the cast, I’d want to watch it. But I don’t know if I have it in me just yet. Especially because… Sam Claflin… Finnick, my baby. I’m still not over it, still not over my Finnick. I think Sam Claflin has taken it upon himself to break everyone’s heart over and over and over. And over. Also, Emilia Clarke! I mean, come on! They got Emilia Clarke to play Louisa Clark. Am I the only one who finds this perfect in a funny kind of way?

So, what more to tell you without spoiling anything? I don’t feel like there is much left to say other than that it was beautiful and I am definitely looking forward to reading some more of Moyes’s works.

**SPOILER ALERT – THE REST OF THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK**

Like I said, this book has made me so bitter. I knew it would. I knew it would make me feel bitter and angry and heartbroken and exhausted, but I kept reading anyway because I couldn’t put it down. Because it was so funny and beautifully written. So genuine and full of life, despite everything. I can’t really come to terms with it. I mean, from the get, all the possible outcomes of this story sucked. Will would either kill himself, or he wouldn’t and he would live another decade or two in pain and suffering and frustration and then die anyway.

This book has made me think of that Doctor Who quote “Everybody knows that everybody dies. And no one knows it better than the Doctor. […] Now and then, every once in a very long while, every day in a million days, when the wind stands fair, and the Doctor comes to call… everybody lives.”

I don’t know why, but I feel this quote is so relevant to this book. Because everybody did live. At least for 6 glorious months, both Will and Lou were more alive than they had ever been. And now, she lives on and Will lives too. Through her, through opening her eyes, through whetting her appetite for a bigger life than she had ever thought she would live. And it’s heartbreaking and it sucks and I wish it could have ended differently, but there were only ever two choices and they both sucked.

On an emotional level, this book was a tornado or a hurricane or a giant tsunami. Something that you see coming quite a way away, but getting out of the way is not that easy and when it hits you, it hits you hard. It’s a book you won’t forget easily, You won’t forget how it made you feel. But it wasn’t lacking on a more intellectual level, either.

There’s a huge and controversial and dare I say, taboo, theme running through the entire book. That of assisted suicide. Of whether it’s right or wrong, whether people in such situations should be given the choice of ending their lives ‘on their own terms’. I’m not going to give my opinion on this subject, because it’s not really a black and white topic, there are so many things to say and consider and no matter how much people want to simplify it, it just won’t be simplified. So I don’t believe a book review is the place to talk about it. But I will say that is was a brave theme to run with and I highly enjoyed this aspect of the novel.

Then there’s also the idea that a really good thing won’t necessarily cancel out all the bad things and a bad thing won’t cancel out the good things. Here we have Will and Lou, negative images of one another. Lou had something awful happen to her (two things, by the end of the book), but she was still full of life, she still found a way to move forward, to move on and see the beauty in life. Will had this one amazing thing happen to him in the person of Lou. She brought life and joy and happiness into his life, but he couldn’t see past the darkness. I thought that was another interesting aspect of the story.

So yeah, this book packs a mean punch, but I’m glad I read it. I don’t know when I’ll be able to bring myself to see the film. And I don’t know when I’ll find it in me to read the sequel.

 

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