Book Review: Me Before You

I get really excited whenever I come home and discover a package containing an uncorrected proof of a book that hasn’t been released yet. More often than not, they’re not the kinds of books I’d buy if I found them in a bookshop, but that’s part of the enjoyment: reading things I’d never think about picking up otherwise. 

One such example this week was Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. It’s coming out in January; and when it does, you shouldn’t be put off by the blurb, because I very nearly was.

More after the jump

The blurb says: 
Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane. Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that. What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

Yup, you’re right. It sounds soppy, predictable and annoying. I frowned when I read it, briefly considered refusing to open the book at all, and then decided to give it a chance. 

From the back of the book, I thought it was perfectly obvious what would happen: woman, unfulfilled in current relationship, loses job and takes new one as carer for Hot Quadriplegic Man, who she falls in love with, and they all live happily ever after. 



Well, half right. The thing is, though, that this story is so inherently realistic that it loses the irritating romantic bullshit straight off. Sure, Louisa’s not happy with her boyfriend. She’s not really sure if she likes him at all, but they’ve been together for years, so… I have so many friends in that situation that if I wasn’t already happily married, I think I’d have given up on the idea by now. 

Sure, she lands a job caring for a quadriplegic who turns out to be young and attractive. Yes, he changes the way she views the world. But he does it in an authentic way: he alters her perception of the small things, the bits you wouldn’t notice. It’s not like she waltzes in, screams “ZOMG! You’re, like, DISABLED!” and he goes, “No, love, I’m differently abled” and they fall head over heels in love. It’s a lot more subtle than that. 

She tries her best to be a good carer, and in the course of her employment, he makes her realise that actually she’s being rather patronising at times. Not even in obvious ways, just in the smallest details which betray her lack of consideration. 

And yes, they fall in love. Of course they do. But it’s not overstated, whirlwind, ridiculous storybook love. It’s companionship: pure, strong and simple. Accidental but also steady. And it’s the way the characters are portrayed – so humanly that you could imagine yourself being either one of them – that truly moves the reader. 

I mean, I’m practically a robot. I’ve come close to tears only once whilst reading a book, and that was The Mathematical Experience by Davis & Hersh, in the bit where they describe exactly how Pythagoras came to work out his theorem. Told you I’m secretly a computer. Give me romance or tragedy, and I’ll flick through the pages feeling nothing but a hint of boredom. Give me a formula or an algorithm, though, and I’ll sit there sobbing: “It’s so beautiful!” Bring on the Kleenex. 

Despite my heart of stone, I did feel like this was a beautifully written story. And quite moving. I mean, nowhere near as emotional as Pythagoras working out that the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the areas of the two other sides, but still. It was good, and I’ve remembered the plot for more than a day, so for someone with a heart, it’s probably very moving indeed. 

Pre-order it here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.