I picked up Me Before You by Jojo Moyes before I had ever seen the movie trailer or even heard of the movie. In fact, I just discovered there’s a movie as I’m typing this because I Googled the book to find the link to add to my post. That being said, when I picked up the book, I thought it would be some kind of superficial chick-flick type book; more of a beach read than anything. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was so much more to this book thank girl meets guy and they fall in love.
This book is about a girl, named Louisa, from a poor family in England who just got laid off from her cafe job and, having no other real job skills, takes a position as a caregiver for a quadriplegic man, named Will. Desperate for money, she tries to see the bright side of her situation most of the time, though the bad-humored, incorrigible nature of the man she’s taking care of makes that very difficult.
As the book progresses, both of these characters grow and change and learn a few things from each other. Will begins to open up, to talk and to laugh more. Louisa begins to realize that there is more to life than working in a cafe in her small town. However, much to the frustration of the reader, Louisa struggles to see Will’s perspective of his life and his condition.
I really enjoyed this book. I felt like it presented a unique blend of the character’s personality traits, as well as the physical handicap of being a quadriplegic and how that intensifies what is already a compelling dynamic between characters.
Besides the storyline, I found myself dumbfounded at all of the limitations of a quadriplegic that I would never have even considered. Moyes does an excellent job of bringing this handicap to life in the story and creating a very real, very personal account of the struggles that quadriplegics and others with handicaps have to go through regularly that able-bodied people literally don’t even think about. Like having to park a car on the grass when a wheelchair’s wheels will sink into the mud. Needing ramps to go up curbs and even a step or two into a house or restaurant. Getting from a wheelchair into bed, going on an airplane (or any type of vacation), getting into a car, moving around the house, and so much more.
And since I’ve never though much about quadriplegics, I was impressed with the details Moyes gave about how Will might feel in many situations. Since he can’t move his arms of legs, he is at the mercy of everyone around him. He needs people to feed him and to get things for him and to adjust volumes, temperatures, clothing. He needs people to dress him and move him and cook for him and bathe him. It is no wonder that he’s such a loathsome person when Louisa first meets him. He can’t stand that he has no control over his entire life!
(It’s interesting to think how technology is changing many limitations, though. You can verbally ask your phone or Alexa or Google Home to do almost anything for you, from changing music and volume, to researching, emailing, texting, making lists, online shopping, reminders, alarms, temperature, social media, and on and on.)
At first, I was of Louisa’s mindset though. She thought it might be nice if he could get some fresh air, go out to eat, see some friends. He might be more pleasant if he could just reconnect and rejoin the world. But the more we experience Will’s new lifestyle, the more we see why a normal life is almost impossible.
So without giving any more away, I will tell you that I highly recommend this book. And as with all books-turned-movies, I would recommend that you read it before seeing the movie, even though I haven’t even seen the movie. Books are always better, in my opinion.
There is also a sequel to this book, called After You, so I may add that to my list to read later.
Did you read the book or see the movie? What did you think?