Me Before You is a novel written by Jojo Moyes and was published in 2012. Many of you might know about this book by now because it was recently turned into a movie and released in June 2016.
I actually bent my “rule” about reading a book before I see the movie adaptation. At the time of the movie release, I didn’t get a chance to read the book first. Personally, I just find that if I see a movie, it’s harder to read a book later and be engaged later unless the book is really super amazing. Well, plus I simple prefer to get to the original source first. Needless to say, Me Before You is an incredible book that I was so amazed by. I loved reading it. It is incredibly thought provoking.
Allow me to backtrack a little bit. Me Before You is (mostly) told from the point of view of a 26-year-old woman, Louisa Clark. Lou is living somewhat of a quiet, sheltered life in the shadow of her brilliant sister when she needs to find a new job.
She comes to be a support person for Will Traynor, a 35 year old man who is a quadriplegic as a result of a motorcycle accident occurring 2 years prior. Will was successful, wealthy, and very active prior to his accident and his family was hoping Lou would be able to help him come out of his depression and see a reason to keep living.
They face many social and health related challenges. Ultimately, Will wants to end his life in Switzerland via assisted suicide.
Assisted suicide is such a complex issue and is fraught with so many social norms, medical questions, and, most importantly, questions about quality of life. I think that that’s possibly what I loved the most about Me Before You. Jojo Moyes really got to the heart of how complicated it is and she accomplished it in such a beautiful and meaningful way. Will’s health was getting worse and worse because of being quadriplegic, he had no independence, and knew it would only get worse, such as maybe not being able to breath on his own. Even though he grew to deeply care for (if not completely love) Lou, it didn’t affect his choice. Jojo Moyes did great at showing diverse perspectives and considerations. I honestly just thought how it played out was so profoundly impactful.
Questions about the meaning of life, and the quality of life, and how we treat death are such complex topics that I really admire Jojo Moyes for writing this book. Apparently, she was inspired to write it because she knew people who were completely dependent on their caregivers and she was inspired when she learned about a young rugby player who chose to go to Switzerland for assisted suicide and realized that it was so much more complex than she thought.
It was also great that the entire story wasn’t just about the assisted suicide, it was about relationships, and about not being afraid to live your life fully, and being yourself and letting the world see who you are.
Everyone should check out this book. It’s incredible. Also, watch the movie too. The movie features Emilia Clarke (Danyarus Targaryan from the Game of Thrones), Sam something (Finn from the Hunger Games), the gentleman who’s Mr. Bates in Downton Abbey, and a few other amazing actors.
Me Before You is also followed by After You. I really want to read that book someday too because I would like to see where Louisa had gone since the end of Me Before You. Something worth checking out for other readers out there.
Title: Me Before You
Author: Jojo Moyes
Published: January 5, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Books
Page count: 480