I must say before I start my review of this book, only two other books have ever left me a weeping mess after the last page. Oddly enough, both written by Ann Brashares: The Last Summer (Of Me & You) and My Name Is Memory. Both of are in my top 5 favorite books I’ve ever read. This book joins the ranks as well.
Louisa Clark is happy being ordinary. She has no great dreams or aspirations. She enjoys her small, unexciting life with her parents, her boyfriend Patrick, her sister Katrina and her nephew Thomas. However, her family has fallen on hard times financially, and it falls on Louisa to find a job she can stick with to keep her family afloat. After she is let go from her job at a bakery, she tries other professions, none of which she seems to be any good at and is unable to find stable work. She goes to the unemployment agency that had placed her in the previous jobs hoping there will be something for her. Luckily enough, a spot has just opened for a caregiver/companion for a man who is confined to a wheelchair. She accepts the job, although unsure of her ability to be a proper caregiver for someone who has no use of their limbs and has such specific medical needs. She arrives at the grand estate of her new employer, and meets Mrs. Traynor, the mother of the man Louisa is to care for. She gives Louisa the breakdown of what will be required of her. She will feed him, give him his medicine and take care of the easier medical aspects of his needs. He has a male nurse, Nathan, who takes care of the more complicated medical matters.
Louisa meets Will, the man she will be caring for. She is struck by how young he is to be in such a state, and how he could maybe be handsome if he cared enough to cut his hair or shave his unruly facial hair. He is often rude, cruel, and patronizing. Obviously bitter about having to be attended to constantly and unable to do anything for himself but press the button that allows him to move around in his wheelchair, Will is a very unhappy man. It is obvious he finds Louisa’s presence and cheerfulness irritating, and he constantly makes remarks about her incompetence. Despite her efforts to be kind and helpful, she finds herself growing more and more frustrated with him. She wants to quit badly, but knowing how much her family is depending on her and that she couldn’t find a better paying job, she sticks it out. She grows familiar with Will’s routine, and continues to try to engage with him despite his constant rebuffs at her attempts. After what seems like an eternity, Will finally starts to open up to Louisa and she learns about his life prior to his accident. He had a high-powered, high paying job, was incredibly adventurous, loved to travel and enjoyed all the finer aspects of life. He lived a life of luxury from birth, since he comes from an incredibly wealthy family, and then went on to make a fortune himself. Against all odds, the two finally develop a friendship and often engage in witty banter, sharing jokes, and Will’s mood seems to improve exponentially. She finds herself enjoying going to work every day, until she overhears a conversation between Will’s family members that shocks her to her core. Knowing this, she makes it her mission to show Will that his life can be good despite his limitations. She goes to great lengths to plan outings and activities for Will, hoping with everything in her that she can change his mind.
What ensues is a beautiful and unique love story of a woman who never dared to dream bigger than the life she leads, and a man who pushes her to want more for herself so that she can experience a life like the one he once lead.
This book is exquisitely written, with extraordinarily well written and vibrant characters. It’s a book that will make you laugh, cry, and will stay with you long after you’ve read the last page. I hadn’t read anything by Jojo Moyes prior to Me Before You, but I will absolutely be reading her other books.
As I’m sure most of you know, a movie adaptation of the novel starring Emilia Clarke (most notable for her role in Game Of Thrones) and Sam Claflin (most notable for his role as Finnick in The Hunger Games franchise) will be released in June, and from what I’ve seen from the trailers, they did an excellent job casting these characters and capturing the beauty of the story. Most, if not all, of the dialogue in the trailers is verbatim from the book. I will be running to the theater when it comes out, and I will definitely be posting my thoughts on the adaptation.
It’s an amazing story, so read the book and then watch the movie when it comes out!