I am a strong believer in reading the book before you see the movie, as you may already know. Never succumb to the lazy option because the book is nearly always better. The universe that you can paint with words is so much richer, more intense than anything a camera can achieve. For that reason I finally picked up a copy of Me before you by Jojo Moyes. (The movie is released on June 3rd, starring Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke).
When I picked up this book I was fully expecting a fluffy, escapist love story. Something light to read after a day of tedious science. I was not expecting the deep, thoughtful and important story that I ended up reading.
Me before you is a story of Louisa Clarke, a girl who has lived the same day over and over for the past seven years. Until she loses her job. She is then forced out of the comfortable bubble. This is how she ends up being carer to Will Traynor, a handsome, smart, witty man who unfortunately is quadriplegic.
This beautiful story took twists and turns that I did not anticipate when I picked it up. Both Will and Lou have secrets that tyrannize the way that they live their lives. Lou, afraid to take a step outside of the little town that she was born in and Will, too bitter to leave the annex his parents built for him. Through the course of the book, as the friendship blooms between this unlikely pair you see them both start to contemplate stepping out of the worlds they have confined themselves to. It is beautifully constructed and entirely believable.
Me before you addressed some really difficult and important questions. It gave concepts a human face: instead of looking at numbers, at the law, or semantics, this book explored the emotional burden of choices we have to make, on ourselves and our loved ones.
It is sometimes difficult to form opinions on important ethical questions because we are dealing entirely in hypotheticals. Me before you brings the hypothetical into reality, and forces you to consider what it means to live.
The only grudge that I have with this book is the love story, Will and Lou being IN love felt contrived. This, in addition to Will’s lack of friends, seemed to suggest that the love of friendship is insufficient to deal with difficult life (or death) choices. It was as if only romantic or familial love means anything when the going gets tough, and I know that is utter drivel.
Apart from my one complaint I really enjoyed and highly recommend this book. It makes you laugh, but it also makes you cry. It makes you think about what makes a meaningful life. It pushes you to evaluate your own beliefs and see how they hold up to scrutiny.
It was not a fluffy, empty, easy book after all.