After hearing Jojo Moyes read an extract from Me Before You at the World Book Night event I recently attended at the Southbank, I was keen to read the ninth novel from former journalist Moyes, who has twice won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award.
That it was chosen as one of twenty books to be given away as part of World Book Night 2013 is accolade enough of its merits, with further proof on the World Book Night website which describes the novel as thus: “An incredibly unexpected story of what happens when life goes wrong… Bittersweet, beautiful, truly heartbreaking but ultimately full of joy and life.”
And so I began. Me Before You tells the story of twenty-seven year old Lou Clark who, following being made redundant from her job in a cafe, accepts a post as carer for local quadriplegic man, Will Traynor, whose world was turned upside down following a motorbike accident two years previously. Already struggling with the temperament of her new boss, Lou overhears Will’s family discussing his recent suicide attempt and consequently hands in her notice. A visit from Will’s mum, however, causes her to reconsider and she agrees to continue working for the Traynor family under one condition:that she can spend the next six months convincing Will that he has a reason to live.
What follows is a tale that fuses both joy and despair in what is, ultimately, a love story of the best kind. As the relationship between Lou and Will develops into one beyond their professional boundaries, it soon becomes apparent that they have a lot to learn from each other. Will teaches Lou to follow her dreams, while Lou does her utmost to make Will see that he has a reason for living, beyond the restraints of his chair.
A beautiful, heartbreaking novel that touches upon the taboo of euthanasia and makes the reader question their own moral standing on one’s right to die, it’s easy to see why Me Before You was championed as a book to encourage the nation to read.