Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Book Review: Me Before You

When I was in college, I got a job working with a woman who has cerebral palsy. I was to cook dinner for her, as well as help her with bathing and her bedtime routine. The first time I went to meet her, I was totally nervous and kept talking to her mom instead of her, as I was under the impression that her mom was the one handling the interview. Then my first day on the job, the girl who connected us walked me through everything. She was also working for her at the time, so she knew all the ropes. After a while, I easily acclimated myself to the job and got to know the woman I was working for. I really liked her and we had a great time talking. She's even responsible for my love of country music. At one point, we went out dancing on a Saturday night. Aside from this great connection we established, there were also the not-so-glamorous things I had to do, but I figured they were par for the course as she needed to have these things done for her. It made me realize all the things I take for granted. After I graduated, I came back to visit when I was in town for a weekend to see my friends. Eventually, we fell out of touch and I still wonder how she's doing. I don't have any other contact information for her, as the letter I sent her came back unopened, saying that she moved someplace else. I just recently noticed that she's on Facebook, but am wondering if she'd remember me if I made contact.

So you can see why the concept behind Me Before You by Jojo Moyes appealed to me. While this story is about a man and my job was with a woman, I still can understand and appreciate that working for someone with a physical disability is never "just a job."

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.
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

I am reviewing this book here because someone already reviewed it for Chick Lit Central. I wanted to share my thoughts in more than just a paragraph on Goodreads because it was that remarkable and memorable. Definitely worth the book hangover it has left in its wake. I still can't stop thinking about it. This is my first experience with a Jojo Moyes novel, but I already want more! She writes so honestly and gives characters such genuine flaws. Louisa is so lovable in so many ways, from her outlook on the world to her concept of fashion that is a cross between Romy and Michele and my three year-old daughter. She seems so real that I feel like we could be chatting in person. And once Will's true colors started to show, I really started to warm to him and I wanted him to "win" in terms of finding meaning in his life. I found myself laughing and smiling, as well as feeling totally stressed out and disappointed at various times. Jojo knows how to throw little surprises in that keep me on the edge of my seat. It's full of heartfelt emotion and lots of gray areas that get readers to really think about how they would handle the same situation from either side.

The only thing that nagged at me, but didn't detract from my enjoyment, was the way money could easily be thrown around by Will and his family. There's a definite contrast between how money is viewed in Louisa's family and in Will's family. I am guessing not everyone with such severe disabilities and medical needs has that same kind of access to the best that money can get. I felt that even with how meaningless he felt his life was, he had it way too easy financially. I've noticed this in other books I've read where someone has a major problem but seems to be able to escape from that problem thanks to their family's wealth.

Me Before You is the selection for my local book club this month and I can't wait to discuss it with everyone. I had been trying to get them to choose it for the past few months and am so glad that they finally went for it. Everyone who has read it previously has told me such good things about it, but it actually was even better than I was expecting, just based on this feedback. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a thought-provoking story that will put them into a situation they might not have given much thought to before. Just be prepared to be consumed....

I won this book from WhoRuBlog, which is also run by a woman who is Orthodox Jewish. Definitely check it out if you're looking for book recommendations. 

More by Jojo Moyes:

Disclosure of Material Connection:
Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


whoRuBlog said...

A great review. This novel is one of my favorites. Did you know that they're making it into a movie? Really looking forward to it!

Carol Fragale Brill said...

Hi Melissa, like you, Me Before You stuck with me for days. I read it a couple of months ago, and it's still raw as I read your review.
I wanted so much to understand and support Will's view of his life, but could not stop hoping he'd find meaning and accept

Elizabeth said...

GREAT review. I haven't read this book yet.

THANK YOU for sharing.

Stopping by from Carole's Books You Loved May Edition. I am in the list as #46 and 47.

My book entries are below. There are three giveaways on my blog as well - two until May 8 and one until May 18.

Silver's Reviews

My Book Entry

My Book Entry