Me Before You is the first of two sequel novels written by Jojo Moyes and published in 2012 by Penguin Books. It is the effortlessly told story about an unlikely romance in the wake of a tragic and fatal accident.
Synopsis: Louisa Clark is about as ordinary as they come. She leads an extremely banal existence with only her garish fashion sense as her one distinctive feature. She is employed by the wealthy Traynors to care for their quadriplegic son, Will, who suffered a terrible accident, confining him to life in a wheelchair, completely bereft of its former high-flying, career driven and worldly greatness.
The two form an unlikely bond that sees them both grow and develop as individuals. Louisa, once an average, everyday young woman with absolutely no semblance of anything close to ambition, begins to contemplate the direction her life is taking. Will on the other hand, learns to stop isolating himself and let others in.
Despite the seriousness of the premise, the tone of the story is suggestive of a light novel, in that it has its comedic moments and a general buoyancy that can mainly be attributed to Louisa’s character and her amusing family.
It was because of this light-heartedness that I didn’t feel as moved by the more distressing parts of the story. While I enjoyed the general direction this novel took, I wish there was a bit more of a melancholy edge as I believe this would have resonated with me on a much deeper level.
I greatly enjoyed the characterisation in this novel, particularly that of Will Traynor’s mother, Camilla and how she rationalises with the conflict that she faces. It really triggered my sense of empathy and endeared me to her character.
The romance was handled brilliantly and I loved the way it organically blossomed in a believable way, albeit with a shadow of the Florence Nightingale effect.
I feel like the ending packed more of an emotional punch than the rest of the story. It had a lingering effect on my mind even after I had finished reading it. The ending succeeded in giving me more of a raw edge, where the rest of the book failed as at that point, the tone had become a lot darker and thus more heart-rending.
Perhaps the inability of Me Before You to provoke a strong sense of emotion from me is a testimony to my own unfeeling nature, however I still very much enjoyed reading it so much so that I am keen to start the sequel novel, After You soon. I would describe Me Before You as a heartfelt light novel, that many will be sure to find, beautifully moving and heart-breaking.
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