Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes


When Bellezza wrote about Me Before You, I knew I absolutely had to read the book. I already was a fan of Jojo Moyes and the story touches on an issue that's very important to me: the right to die with dignity. But, I had no idea just how deeply moving the story would be. Like Bellezza, I have to write about it right now, while the feeling is still fresh, with 3 crumpled, damp tissues nearby and Isabel kitty still recovering from watching with wide-eyed concern as I sobbed.

Me Before You tells the story of two people whose lives have abruptly changed. As the book opens, we meet Will Traynor, a man who is a successful businessman and world traveler, a man who loves life and lives it to the fullest. He is dashing off to work in the pouring rain when tragedy strikes, leaving him unable to function on his own, a quadraplegic who can feel pain but has very limited movement in only one arm.

Fast-forward two years. Louisa Clark has just lost her job as a waitress at the Buttered Bun, a cozy cafe near the town's castle. 26 years old, living at home, dating the same man she's been with for 6 years, Lou has no interest in change and no idea what to do next; however, she has no choice but to work. Her father is likely to lose his job, her mother is tasked with caring for her grandfather, who had a stroke, and her sister's job pays very badly.

Lou applies for a job as carer for a paraplegic as a last ditch effort. It's a temporary job and she has no experience caring for a disabled man. But, Will's mother isn't looking for experience. Will has only promised his mother 6 more months before he plans to take his own life at Dignitas. Mrs. Traynor hopes that Lou's bright personality will help Will to realize that his life is still worth living.

It takes time for Will and Lou to warm up to each other, but her playful sense of humor and sparkling wit can't be overlooked by a man as sharp as Will Traynor. Slowly, she draws him out of his bitter shell and their relationship deepens. And, it's a two-way street. At the same time Lou is making Will's days pleasant, he is teaching her how to step outside her self-imposed boundaries, to live life to the fullest.

I won't tell you how the book ends, apart from saying that I was a bit astonished to find the story both heartbreaking and beautiful without being depressing. Me Before You is a love story, but it's so much more. It's about really living life every day, the question of whether or not anyone has a right to die with dignity at a time of his or her own choosing, the emotional and physical pain of quadriplegia and how a relationship that lacks the usual physical comforts can be much deeper and more intimate than the norm. Me Before You is a powerful story that brings up a lot of questions and would make an excellent discussion book (although, perhaps, one that could potentially lead to a bit of a shouting match between those with differing opinions).

Highly recommended to those who love a meaningful story of love, life and loss. Miserably, compulsively readable, with exceptional dialogue and character development and not a single wasted word in its 481 pages (in my humble opinion). Me Before You was just released this week by Penguin Books, although it appears that it's a UK release and not yet available in the US [Update: The author has confirmed that Me Before You has just been released in the UK but said she hopes a US release will be coming up "very soon"]. Bellezza very kindly sent me her copy when I mentioned how much I love Jojo Moyes' writing. Thank you, Bellezza!!

Be sure to check out Bellezza's review of Me Before You and Jojo Moyes' website. I've read two other books by Jojo Moyes: Foreign Fruit and The Ship of Brides. And, I have two others waiting on my shelves. Wahoo for that.

I suppose this means my "blogging break" has just gone out the window. Well, that's fine. If saying I'm going to step away leads to suddenly finding that I'm ready to write reviews, I'm okay with that.

©2012 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email bookfoolery@gmail.com for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

22 comments:

  1. Very nice review, Nancy. Yes, Bellezza's thoughts were so powerful, I added this book to an order that I was placing "across the pond". My copy will be coming at some point and I look forward to reading it.

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  2. This sounds like an undertaking... I will have to add it to my wish list. I have never read Moyes before but I have wanted to try her for a while.

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  3. Oh, I love Jojo Moyes and I need to read this book. It sounds similar in theme to You're Not You by Michelle Wildgen. I can't wait to pick it up.

    I'm glad your blogging break is over!

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  4. K, I think I'm going to have to try this one. I love that Isabel was concerned. When I cry my cat runs away from me. ;)

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  5. Kay,

    Isn't Bellezza's review wonderful? Very cool that you've already added Me Before You to an order. You won't regret it.

    Kelly,

    I'm pretty much convinced Jojo Moyes can do no wrong. If you don't want to wait for this title, you should grab one of her others. I can't even say I have a favorite, although Me Before You is the most meaningful.

    Cath,

    Wahoo, a fellow Jojo Moyes fan!

    Ah, now you've done it. I have no choice but to look up You're Not You.

    Why, thank you. I should probably tell myself I'm taking a break more often. It seemed to do the trick. :)

    Jenny,

    Yes, I do believe you should. :)

    I seem to end up with the most dog-like cats, for some reason. Our dearly departed Miss Sunshine was the same way. One time when I was sobbing about some life tragedy (I seem to have had my fair share), she climbed up on my chest and tucked her head under my chin. I will never forget that. It was the sweetest moment.

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  6. Well, that was fast! So glad that you loved it as much as I did, and I'm also glad to be reminded of her other works. This is the first I've read of hers; yippee for more! XO

    Don't you love it when the kitties are dismayed by our tears? I mean, I don't want to make them sad, but I do appreciate their care.

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  7. Bellezza,

    Some books just holler at you from the moment they walk in the door. Of course, you already know how anxious I was to read this one! I just slotted it in when it wouldn't shut up. LOL The other two books were much lighter but I think I mentioned laughing and crying in both reviews. She is definitely an author who knows how to engage emotions.

    Yes, I do love it when the kitties are obviously distressed by tears! You've hit the nail on the head, there. I don't desire to make them unhappy but it is lovely to realize, "Wow, this little fur friend of mine really cares!" They are such sweet little things.

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  8. I'm planning to read this in the next few weeks, so I'll have to come back and read your review. Not that you might have spoilers, but I love the idea of going into a book completely fresh. So glad you enjoyed it as much as Bellezza. I have a feeling 2012 is going to be my year for great books!

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    1. I skip reviews when I'm planning to read a book right away, too. Sometimes it's really hard to know what's spoilery and what's not so it doesn't hurt to be cautious. Yes, I did enjoy it as much as Bellezza, I think. We both felt compelled to write about it while our eyes were still damp.

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  9. This is not a book I would've picked up on my own, but in light of your review, I would definitely try it now. Thanks for a fab review, Nancyroo!

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    1. Andiloo,

      I hope you enjoy it. Prepare to have your heart broken a little, but in a good way.

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  10. This sounds like it would be a thought provoking and difficult book to read. I'm guessing tissues will need to be at hand.
    Ann

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  11. Ann,

    It is both thought-provoking and difficult. It might even make you a little angry. It's a very emotional read. Do keep the tissues nearby. I had to occasionally put the book down to wipe away tears and get a grip.

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  12. I liked it very much and found it quite different from what I expected. I had a hard time reviewing it because a simple synopsis wouldn't do it justice, but a detailed evaluation would reveal too much. It does break your heart a little. Until the end, I marveled at the way Moyes handled the story without making me cry, but in the end, tears were shed.

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    1. Jenclair,

      I hope I didn't give anything crucial away. I was very impressed, too, although I already knew Jojo Moyes is a wonderful writer. I'm also a little stunned at how hopeful the book is, in spite of the difficult ending.

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  13. Wow, I'm glad to see such a powerful recommendation from you for this one! I received an advance copy unsolicited and will have to move this one up the TBR list.

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    1. Lucky chick. I wish Penguin UK would send awesome unsolicited books to me! LOL I'm very fortunate that Bellezza's such a generous friend. Me Before You is a hard read but, I think, rather an important one.

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  14. I've read great things about this author! I best get to the first one soon, huh?! However, I'm not so excited about being moved to tears.

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    1. Joy,

      I really enjoy her books. Me Before You is a hard read, though. If you'd rather not read a book that involves tissues (and a heartbreaking but hopeful ending), I'd shoot for reading her earlier books, first. :)

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  15. I had no idea that this book was coming out, so I was very excited when I first heard about it. Her book, Last Letter from your Lover, was one of my favourites last year, and I also have previously read and really enjoyed Ship of Brides.

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    1. Marg,

      I've got a copy of Last Letter from your Lover (one of my final Borders purchases, *sniff*). I'm glad to hear it was one of your favorites in 2011! The Ship of Brides is probably my favorite, so far, but Me Before You tackles the most meaningful, difficult topic. I think it's a gutsy book, really.

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  16. I read this book in one sitting. OMG, I could not put it down. I am from the US, so some of things in the book are very new to me, such as the place in Switzerland. I was at work when I was finishing it and I thought I was going to not be able to stop crying (on my lunch hour of course!) haha

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