Everyone I’ve talked to who’s read Me Before You loved it. Raved about it. Talked of using full Kleenex boxes to wipe away the tears. But it just wasn’t for me. Maybe it’s because I’m not a huge fan of romance novels, but I didn’t even cry and this book is full of emotional fodder.
So if I don’t like romance, why did I read it, you ask? Well, my book club got pre-screening tickets to see Me Before You before it hit theaters. So I ordered it from Amazon because it had over 76(!) requests at the library and read it quickly so I could make the pre-screening the following week. Then other plans came up and I couldn’t make it to the movie. Truthfully, I’m okay with that.
Will Traynor, a financial executive who lives life to the fullest, experiences a freak accident, which places him in a wheelchair as a paraplegic. Louisa Clark, an ordinary girl who’s never left home, is hired as his caretaker with a mysterious six-month contract. You soon find out that Louisa is Will’s family’s last hope in persuading him against committing assisted suicide. This might seem like a major spoiler, but it’s pretty obvious from the get-go.
The story is told from Louisa’s perspective and Moyes’ prose is fairly direct, utilizing mostly dialogue throughout the story. There isn’t a lot of description or fluff, which made this a quick read. Moyes did keep me engaged – I couldn’t put the book down a few different times, but I had so many issues with the plot itself.
First, both Louisa and Will patronize each other constantly. Louisa tells Will her love should be enough for him to want to live. Will tells Louisa that she isn’t living up to her full potential while being real pretentious about it. Will takes Louisa to fancy events, shows her foreign films, and opens her eyes to interesting authors, which apparently makes Louisa capable of fulfilling her potential. At the end of Me Before You, Louisa has decided to travel the world, leaving her hometown and timidness behind. It’s probably the feminist in me, but this drove me crazy! It really felt like Louisa was granted permission to expand her horizons and then, and only then, did she act upon that. Blech.
Second, the way people with disabilities are treated in this book seems…disingenuous to me. I’ve written this paragraph over and over again, deleting and adding sentences, trying to gather my thoughts. But when I get down to it, I can’t speak for the disabled community and there are other criticisms out there that do so in a much better way than I can. But suffice it to say, I wasn’t a fan of how M0yes portrays Will, who feels like assisted suicide is the only way he can exert control over his life. People with disabilities live extremely full lives and that point of view was completely absent from this story.
I think if you’re a fan of romance and don’t mind overlooking some of the flaws of this book, you’ll enjoy Me Before You. But if you’re like me, and are on the fence about romance novels in general and can’t turn your critical brain off, I’d skip this.