I had a sense of déjà vu when I opened Me Before You. It is inexplicable. I felt such a keen connection with the characters and yet, that connection was strange for I knew nothing about the author. I knew not to expect an epic finale, one of those mind altering, shivers down your spine sort, but here’s what I did not expect…
I did not expect to learn about quadriplegics. I did not expect to like the book so much that I immediately searched for another novel by this author. I certainly did not expect to question this one chance at life. I did see parallels to that beautiful film ‘An Affair to Remember’- How I love Cary Grant. But it is not a romantic story. It is more than that, it is serious, fragile and inspiring. And….when I finished this clever, witty, sad, yet mirthful story, I still did not know as much as I thought I knew. I learned. I learned to see through the bravado, I learned to be even more respectful, to not feel sorry for myself. I learned to be aware of doorways that needed widening. I learned that I needed to learn awareness.
Will Traynor is unabashedly good-looking, successful, highly intelligent and well-traveled. Alicia is equally successful, slightly vain and really good at her job. Theirs is an interesting relationship. Full of health, fun and vitality. You are struck almost immediately of how dynamic they are from the way they connect, although not much of the story is devoted to their lives together. He leaves her one dreary London morning, to begin a life he never saw coming.
Louisa is lovely. I liked her straight away. She has such a Bridget Jones quality to her, I wanted to be her friend. Refreshingly normal, she is a waitress at the ‘Buttered Bun’-Don’t you love that name- tea shop. Lou really likes people, genuinely so. She listens and learns about everyone that comes in. The more I understood her character, the more I felt an irresistible pull to her sweet nature. Sometimes clueless, innocent almost, and yet, quite worldly, Lou Clark, right down to her stripey bumble bee tights, is in fact, quite utterly unique.
When Louisa steps out of her box and applies for a job she is extremely unsuited to, the layers begin to peel. She has lost her job, a decision she never saw coming, and her parents badly need the extra money. She lives at home, squabbling constantly with her sister who has a child. She is made to feel aware of how much they all need the added income because her sister has decided to go back to school. At first, everyone thinks she’s lost her hat. She is to be Will Traynor’s care giver. Take him for walks, give him medicine (of which there are many – pills I mean) and generally make herself useful. She is not to be his friend, his adviser, nor be seen by him, except when he says so. She may sometimes have to change his clothes. Will Traynor is a quadriplegic. This is truly where the story begins. It explodes with color and emotion. You are caught up in its joy and the indomitable spirit of Louisa and her connection to this man. This ill-tempered, shaggy haired, sad man, who is used to adventure and climbing mountains, feels less of himself for he cannot accept his place in the world as a quadriplegic. He is insecure, in pain and angry. Well, rather, that is how he sees himself. Lou sees potential.
As gruff as Will is with Lou, she does not give up. She takes him on, bright and sunny and she will not baby him. She treats him like an adult when everyone else refuses to do so. His parents are constantly making decisions for Will, he does not smile, does not respond, actually, he does not care who he hurts and how he hurts them. Louisa, however, really wants to try and make Will happy. She makes mistakes when she takes him on outings, she does not realize there are challenges to taking a man in wheel chair, in a car she hasn’t driven before. Like getting stuck in the mud when it rains, like struggling to dig out the wheel chair when it refuses to budge on wet grass. Especially when doorways are not wide enough and most of all when people stare and point, Louisa does not stop. As they somehow muddle through it all, they forge an understanding. They become friends. She sees Will at his worst. He gives her an education. He introduces her to books she has never read before, a world of film and travel. There is no judgement, there is no difference in how she treats him. Much to her surprise, she looks forward to seeing him everyday and he, the same. That is, until she overhears a conversation that throws her whole world upside down.
Louisa has begun to care for Will, and the beauty of it all is that she expects nothing in return. This girl, who everyone imagined would be extremely unsuited to a job as a caregiver, has now put all of his needs ahead of hers and is truly happy with the way things are.
In six months much has changed in Will’s family as well as Lou’s. The core of this story is about choices. The choices we make and how it can affect everyone we love. It is about a life worth living. Carpe Diem – Seize the day! it is all we have. The present and how marvelous we can make it.
I would love it if you stopped by my blog friend Monica Medina’s post at http://monicastangledweb.com/2013/10/01/feeling-sorry-for-yourself/
Book – Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
- paperback, 369 pages
- Young women – Fiction
- Published by, Penguin Books
- First Edition, 2012
- ISBN 978-0-670-02660-9 (hc)
- ISBN 978-0-14-312454-2 (pbk)