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6th April 2014 – Blast from the Past Book Review: ‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes

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Let me begin this review by saying  that if you are a fan of women’s fiction or indeed any kind of fiction and have not read this book, you are missing out….massively! I loved this book and if I could give it six stars, I would!

This book is being adapted into a movie by MGM and I thought that it is appropriate that I review this for my blog at this time.

The subject of this book may not be your run of the mill, fluffy, chick lit material. The story is about Louisa AKA Lou, a girl who has not found her calling in life and is non-committal and matter of fact about everything, including what she wants to do in life. She finds herself out of work one day, when her boss at the cafe where she has worked for years tells her that he can’t afford her anymore. After a series of dead end jobs, she gets a job working as a carer on a six month contract for quadriplegic Will Traynor.  What she does not realise is that those very six months will be the most momentous, life-affirming and life-changing months of her and Will’s life.

Jojo Moyes is a brilliant story-teller, period. Her writing style is humorous yet sensitive, empathetic yet blunt, intuitive yet straight-forward. To handle a topic such as quadrepiligia and euthanasia with such honesty and sensitivity as well as incorporating this into a fantastic story shows just how talented this author is. Added to this, the colourful individuals in Lou’s family including her mother, father and her sister Treena add the much needed light humour to the book.

This is not a fairytale romance which shows the world of a quadriplegic through rose-tinted glasses. When Louisa starts her job as Will’s carer, the reader (in this case even me!) discovers a fraction of what living life as a quadriplegic would be. The mistrustful and cynical relationship that Will and Louisa have initially also strikes one as extremely truthful. How Lou develops the maturity and the knowledge to deal with Will’s condition and the beautiful, tremulous and intricate relationship which starts to develop between them is what makes this novel so unique.  The reader also witnesses the largely disillusioned and disheartened Will start to take an active interest in bettering Lou’s life and pushing her to take risks and let go of her old ‘aimless’ lifestyle.  The reader also realises that things that we take for granted, a walk in the park, going to the movies, just enjoying the warm summer sun, simple things really, are impossible for a quadriplegic to enjoy without significant help and support. The supporting cast in form of Lou’s slightly critical, condescending but loving parents, her sister Treena, with whom Lou shares a love/hate relationship and her self-obsessed, personal trainer boyfriend Patrick make this novel even more appealing.

The novel poses the big question….should an individual who in the past had a full, interesting, active life, who was smart, successful and popular, who commanded people’s admiration and respect but was now wheelchair bound and dependant on his carers to fulfil even his most basic need, be allowed to take his life in his own hands? As a reader of the novel, your heart bleeds for Will as he struggles with life daily and you can understand his desperation to end his suffering, given the life he had before and the disillusionments and abandonments he has had to face ever since his accident and his current quadriplegic state. On the other hand, you can’t help but cheer Lou on as she concocts one plan after another in other to motivate Will to live, from taking him to the horse race or to various picnics or to the holiday in Mauritius.

You also feel for Will’s parents, his father needs to make his own life-changing decisions but has put them on hold due to his son’s illness and his mother, who despite being a confident and steely career woman, is broken by her son’s unfortunate fate.

Ultimately, this novel is not about being right or wrong, it is about forming your own conclusion….. It is also about a beautiful and unconventional love story, one which transcends physicality, time and circumstance.

It would be quite exciting to see this novel come alive on the screen and I would love to see who they cast as Lou and Will. My personal favourites for the two leads would be Henry Caville as Will and Carey Mulligan as Lou.

Do comment on who you think would be suitable as the lead pair for the screen adaptation.

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