Size: 482 pages
Availability: Paperback, Hardcover Large Print, Ebook, Audiobook
Borrowed from the local library.
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.
Let’s get the genre debate out of the way, as it seems to be in most reviews of this book. Me Before You is a contemporary fiction novel. It features romance, and it certainly could come under the chick lit bracket, but the focus of this novel puts it firmly in the contemporary bracket, for me, anyway, and I believe that was the author’s intended genre.
Many people have been telling me to read Me Before You since its’ January 2012 release, and when we got to 2013 and I still hadn’t got myself a copy, they started telling me off! Then when my GP told me to read it I finally went ahead and picked up a copy from the library and found myself wishing I’d bought a copy at some point instead because I desperately want to reread it. In fact, apparently I was going on about it so much that my fiancé bought me a copy.
Louisa is a girl with a whacky dress sense (glittery green tights, anyone?) who works in a café. Only the café closes up and Louisa finds herself at the Job Centre looking at vacancies in the chicken factory, pole dancing, and care work. As an unemployed person, I can tell you that if it’s not your chosen field of work, they can’t force you to go for something in the way that they try to with poor Lou but thankfully she isn’t there for long as she’s shoved in the direction of a 6 month position caring for a young adult quadriplegic male who already has a nurse to deal with the bum wiping bits (as Lou puts it). So she goes for the job and finds herself hating it when Will is cold and nasty, yet she keeps at it because it pays very well and her family need the money.
Her sister pretty much guilts her into it because she wants to go back to college – I can’t say I was her sister’s biggest fan, overall, but she had her decent moments as well. Lou is still living with her mum and dad, her grandad who needs her mum to look after him because of his stroke, her sister and nephew. With her dad’s job in jeopardy, that only leaves her and her sister earning any money for the family. Despite this, they have the tendency to make her feel a bit useless. And her only escape is her boyfriend Patrick who spends so much time training and hanging out with his athletic friends that even on the very very rare occasions they do get alone, there’s no intimacy and Patrick bores poor Lou to tears. So perhaps working for Will Traynor could be just the thing to liven up her days. Lou takes it upon herself to try and show Will that there are still things to live for, and he turns out to be a pretty great guy once he lets her in. You actually feel Lou starting to care for Will and watch their friendship building.
A lot of people talk about how romantic Me Before You is, and sure, it is romantic, but I would be lying if I didn’t tell you what the book is really about at its’ heart. I feel it’s important to know going into the book that the euthanasia debate features quite heavily but I also firmly believe that whether you are for or against, you need to read this book. It looks at the debate from the angle of a person who cares deeply about the person who wants it to be over. Morever, though, Me Before You is a book about living your life to the fullest. Not necessarily about going all out with the extreme sports, but in going for things you might be afraid of and it really opened my eyes. It’s not often a book comes along and makes you rethink the way you live your life but this is one of the rare few.
Me Before You is a beautiful novel about a girl who just feels a bit lost in life, and a guy who found his life was cruelly snatched out from beneath his feet. It features romance and life and the need for tissues. It is immersive, funny, and heartbreaking. Now, if you excuse me, I need to go reread this magnificent novel and start telling people off for having not read it yet because it truly is a must read.