It’s no secret that I adore a book that draws me to tears. There’s something quite magical about words on paper that have the ability to stir such strong emotions, and so when multiple people recommended Me Before You and insisted I would cry my little heart out, I couldn’t resist grabbing myself a copy even though I had no idea what the bloody thing was about. (And in case you’re wondering, they were right – I sobbed into my pillow the entire night after reaching the end.)
Me Before You tells the story of quirky and colourful Louisa Clark, and how her world changes when she’s hired to care for Will Traynor, a once successful banker who has been left paralysed after a road accident. Lou’s cheerful attitude is put to the test when she witnesses Will’s dismal outlook on life, but before they know it, their bond deepens and neither of them realise their lives are about to change in ways they could never have imagined.
You may have seen recently that there has been a lot of controversy surrounding this book, especially now it’s been adapted for the big screen. It’s been a while since I actually finished and reviewed this book (I didn’t have time to post it in between exams and dissertations!), and since then I have read and discussed the sensitive topics within it with numerous people with differing opinions, and I’d like to make it clear that I 100% respect people’s opinions and arguments, regardless of whether I agree with them or not.
In fact, I encourage to you listen to and discuss the arguments against the book, whether you enjoyed it or not. Whilst we’re never going to live in a world where everyone agrees, it’s so healthy to have the ability to discuss and understand another person’s feelings. Whilst I can’t say I agreed with all of it, I really enjoyed reading this article that was sent over to me by Shona, and I suggest you do the same too. You should also head over and read Shona’s guest post about her life with Marfan Syndrome.
For me, when I’m reading a book, I get lost in it, and never associate it with real life; books are stories, and everyone goes through a different journey when they read them. I’m not ignorant enough to think a character in a book defines a community in general – ever. So, I suppose when I read this book, I (quite ignorantly I guess) didn’t consider the impact it could have on other people, and now I know what I know, I totally understand some of the book’s faults. This doesn’t change the fact, however, that I enjoyed the book when I originally read it.
“…I told him a story of two people. Two people who shouldn’t have met, and who didn’t like each other much when they did, but who found they were the only two people in the world who could possibly have understood each other.”
The book truly had me captured within the first few chapters. Jojo Moyes writing style kept me firmly engaged with each and every page, and the story still lingers on my skin long after reading the closing chapter. I went through the entire spectrum of human emotions when reading this book; I laughed and then I cried, I felt hopeful and then helpless, there was anger and there was happiness, and eventually my heart was twisted, pulled and squeezed until I sat in bed sobbing over the pages. (And honestly, I don’t mean a single tear down my cheek. I’m talking full-on, snotty, guttural sobs.)
The characters will stay with me for a long time, and I won’t be in a rush to forget how the deepening connection between Will and Lou emanated from the pages as I followed their journey together. Although predictable, their blossoming romance was subtle, touching and wonderful. I still feel a pinch in my chest every time I think about how this book made me feel, and for that reason, this is a book that will stay with me forever. (Someone hold me, I’m crying again just writing this.)
“And then, just like that, my heart broke. My face crumpled, my composure went and I held him tightly and I stopped caring that he could feel the shudder of my sobbing body because grief swamped me. It overwhelmed me and tore at my heart and my stomach and my head and it pulled me under, and I couldn’t bear it. I honestly thought I couldn’t bear it.”
I refuse to spoil anything as I don’t want to take away the experience from anyone, but I will say the ending hit me like a punch in the gut, though I wouldn’t change it; it was unexpected for me, and it’s for this reason that the book managed to take such a hold on my emotions.
A thought-provoking and emotional read filled with complex characters, Me Before You is a heart-breaking read that I would recommend to those of you who are willing to open your minds to both the merits and faults of the story. And those of you who are willing to have a little piece of your heart chipped away like I did.
“You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”
PS. I’m crying yet again just proof reading this before I press publish. I have also seen the movie adaptation now and cried as soon as the opening credits came on. Seriously. Pinch in my chest. I wasn’t fibbing.