Last month, I found a gift with no card. I assumed it was mine since it was inside my pillow case. I opened it carefully without ruining the wrapper (so I could re-wrap it in case I found out that it wasn’t mine after all). Lo and behold, it’s Me Before You, the novel that I’ve been chasing from bookstore to bookstore. It is always out of stock. It’s a sweet surprise from my husband.
It’s one of those books that are hard to put down once you’ve started reading. The book comes in a simple bright red cover with the large title embossed on the front.
Word of advice: Make sure you have something sweet after reading this heart-wrenching book. My favorite macadamia cookie gave me some comfort between tears.
About Jojo Moyes
Me Before You is written by Jojo Moyes, the New York Times bestselling author of One Plus One, The Girl You Left Behind, The Last Letter from Your Lover, The Ship of Brides, Silver Bay, and Honeymoon in Paris. She published her first book, Sheltering Rain in 2002 and has been a full novelist ever since.
Moyes is married to journalist Charles Arthur. They live in a farm in Essex, England with their three children.
Me Before You was released in July 30, 2013. It has sold over 3 million copies worldwide. The contemporary romantic fiction has been nominated for Book of the Year at the UK Galaxy Book Awards. The 369-page book is part of a series.
Behind the title
I believe that the title Me Before You is a view of two different worlds. At one aspect, it refers to Louisa (Lou) Clark’s simple and uneventful life before her path intertwines with Will’s. I also think that the title is linked to William (Will) Traynor’s life before he meets Lou. When the quirky Lou comes into the scene, the bitterness that has engulfed Will since the tragic accident robbed him of his mobility somehow debilitates.
Will before Lou
The author begins with the dynamic Will in 2007. He is young, vibrant, successful, and full of zest. He loves his job and he has a flair for adventure. Will has a lovely girlfriend named Alicia who supports him.
Everything changes in a blink of an eye when an accident almost claims his life.
Will survives but the accident takes away his freedom and along with it, his spirit.
Lou before Will
Twenty-six year old Lou is contented with the flow of her life. She lives with her parents, sister and nephew. Lou works in a local café called ‘The Buttered Bun’ where she finds pleasure in observing people from different walks of life. Her simple and yet stable life crumbles down when her employer informs her that he is closing the café. He gives her three months worth of salary to tide her over.
Losing her job becomes a family matter since her salary pays for the bulk of the bills. Lou makes an effort to try other jobs. She has a short stint at the chicken processing factory and a fast food chain.
Back at the job center, she is forced to apply for the job as caregiver to disabled man.
Lou meets Will
The strict and authoritative Camilla Traynor surprisingly chooses Lou to care for her quadriplegic son over a more qualified applicant.
Will and Lou doesn’t hit it off at the start. Will doesn’t mince his words and makes it plain what he thinks of her.
“This is awful. He hates me.” (p.35)
The stubborn Will doesn’t have to say it straight to her face but Lou knows that he doesn’t like her presence. With that in mind, the six-month contract she signed with Camilla seems like an eternity.
Development of the characters
“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)
Most people around Lou, including her family see her as a sweet, kind, funny, and dependable person. Sadly, Lou is blind to her own creativity and talents. She grew up believing that her sister is better than her in so many ways.
Her boyfriend, Patrick is a self-centered individual. He is obsessed about running and maintaining his diet. Patrick seems to care more about his marathon than Lou. There’s not an ounce of sweetness in their relationship. I think that they have a convenient and practical companionship rather than one borne out of love.
Lou is used to underestimating her capabilities but things begin to change when she meets Will.
Although confined in a wheelchair, Will experienced a fantastic life. He knew how it felt to be on the top. His successful career gave him a taste of power. He lived a life of adventure. Will was never afraid of trying extreme sports. His desire for excitement took him to different places across the globe. It was a life that many envied.
But all that was abruptly snatched from him when an accident turned him into a quadriplegic.
The cheerful and adventure-seeking Will has been replaced by a moody and spiteful man who has lost the use of his hands and legs. The man who used to win big corporate deals, conquer mountains, jump off cliffs, and mesmerize women is now reduced to half of a man who is forever in the mercy of others. He has lost the will to survive.
Will sees the beauty and talent hidden inside of Lou. He encourages her to come out of her shell and be the best that she can be. Will pushes her to try things that she never contemplated of doing before.
Lou realizes that she doesn’t have to settle with what she has because it’s safe and comforting. Will inspires her to go out of her comfort zone and broaden her horizons.
“I just … want to be a man who has been to a concert with a girl in a red dress. Just for a few minutes more” (p. 166)
Although Will has given his life a deadline, he finds rare happiness with Lou. She gives him strength during his most vulnerable times.
It’s his love that makes him decide not to allow her to tie herself beside him. Will wishes Lou to spread her wings and see the world … to enjoy life after him.
Photo by the author. Some rights reserved.
Rachel Yapchiongco, also known as Rach to her friends, is a Psychology and Marketing Management graduate of De La Salle University. Rachel is a mom to a charming boy and married to an entrepreneur who has a passion for cooking. She shares parenting experiences and slices of everyday life on her personal blog called Heart of Rachel.