Louisa Clark is out of a job and desperate to find one in order to support not only her parents, but her single-mother sister as well. After repeatedly failing at a parade of medial positions, Lou is offered an opportunity to become a “care assistant”for a quadriplegic, 35-year-old man. Will Traynor was injured in an accident two years prior; his overbearing mother feels that he needs
cheering up from someone other than Nathan the nurse. Handsome and wealthy, Will was incredibly successful and active prior to the accident, but his complete dependence on those around him has left him depressed and suicidal. Lou hesitantly accepts the six month contract, and immediately sets to work trying to help the moody andreclusive Will. However, she soon overhears the disturbing truth regarding her assigned timeframe – Will has an agreement with his
parents that he will try to find life worth living for another six months, but if he does not, the Traynors will accompany him to the controversial Dignitas. Mortified and driven to action, Lou makes it her personal mission to save Will Traynor. Predictably, she falls madly in love with him in the process.
With limitless financial reserves and hours upon hours spent together, it is no surprise that these two develop feelings for each other. What is surprising is how successfully Moyes is able to tug at the heartstrings. Seriously. Verbalize the entire extent of the plot to
anyone, and you’ll be surprised that this novel triggers such an intense emotional response. I am not typically a love story sort of gal, but I wanted Will and Louisa to be together so much that the novel actually gave me anxiety. There are so many moments when it seems as if it could happen. And then it didn’t. It is as if Moyes gets some sort of vindictive glee out of taking her readers’ hearts and ripping them to shreds with her bare hands. I found myself sobbing repeatedly. So much so that I that to be discreet with when and where I read the novel, as bawling in public places is something that I try to avoid.
Me Before You is devastating, and I frankly don’t understand it. From the very start of the novel, I knew how things were going to end. I knew, deep down, that a relationship could never happen. Yet I read on; I hopefully read on. Although things could never work out between
Will and Lou, I still held out in case they did.
Moreover, Moyes skillfully plays both sides of the assisted suicide debate. Her immaculate presentation of the opposing opinions only causes further frustration, since my personal opinion on the matter seemed to change with each chapter. It’s not a black and white issue,
and Moyes refuses to tread lightly regarding this angle of the pro-life debate.
The only thing that I disliked about Me Before You was the extent to which it toyed with my emotions; by the end I felt the way a distraught teenaged girl is meant to feel as she navigates through the Twilight series. Not that Moyes’ writing can in any way be compared to that of
Stephenie Meyer (the latter’s is of the quality and consistency of fecal matter); my point is that the emotional response that Meyer failed to elicit in her depiction of unrequited love is successfully and beautifully achieved in this raw portrayal. Well played, Moyes. Well played.