Renee's Reviews > Me Before You

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
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really liked it

This isn't my type of book at all, but something made me feel like I needed to read it (call it [no-so-]subliminal messaging from all of the book blogs, podcasts, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts that I follow).

Let me get my biggest gripe out of the way first: the back cover plot summary literally gives the entire story away. It doesn't say it in so many words, but when you're told on the back cover that Will has a shocking plan for himself following a life-changing accident which leaves him as a C5-6 quadriplegic and Louisa is tasked with showing him that life is still worth living (exact words), it's not really difficult to figure out. If you have reading comprehension skills, the plot summary will piss you off by ruining the fun of reading the book. Because of that, I found that I would pick up the book, get into it, remember that I knew how it was going to end, and then wonder why I was still reading. I almost found myself hoping there was some big plot twist in which something happened to Louisa and the perspective would change to Will and that it was really about his life before and after her.

That's my biggest gripe, but it's not an insignificant one.

That said, if you're really not sure what is happening after reading that, then just know that there are going to be spoilers ahead.

Things I did like about the book: I think that most women can relate to Louisa and how she kind of either forgets to think about what she wants for herself, or she puts her own life on the back burner, believing that she can't do the things she wants to do.

I think that I loved the scenes in her family house on Renfrew Road the best just because I enjoyed her family dynamic. I was pretty sure her father was a huge jerk at first, but then I came to believe that he was a nice and kind man who liked to tease his daughters. I could understand her feeling of being in the background when she felt like she was older, but her younger sister did everything better, and that she (the sister) and her son were her parents' biggest interest because there was some kind of dynamic aspect to their lives -- some kind of potential that Louisa didn't see in herself. I also loved the image that I got of their house in my head. It just felt so cozy and full of that familial feeling that I liked being in those scenes, regardless of what Louisa was dealing with.

I understood the point that her relationship with Patrick served, but it seemed so clear from the beginning that it needed to end. I felt like many of the scenes with him were afterthoughts, as though someone may have said, "What about her boyfriend?" and then it was like, "Oh right. Let's put a mention of him in here somewhere and then a scene later which will just remind you that there's no way they're going to stay together, but make you continue waiting for them to actually break up." I felt like that was dragged out a bit too much.

Louisa's transformation over the course of the novel is a nod to what can happen when you open your mind a bit. Sometimes you just have to be forced to do it. Faced with the choice of pole dancing or working as a caregiver to earn money for her family, she chose to be a caregiver -- even knowing how she was the butt of family jokes because she was so bad at it. She was forced to open her mind by those circumstances. She was forced to open her mind to new experiences when she was faced with the decision to stand quietly by and let Will choose to die, or to go outside of her comfort zone and do everything she could to change his mind. Even up until the end -- she was forced to open her mind to empathy and trying to understand his position and his decision to end his own life. She did things that she believed were out of character for her, but she was just learning that Will challenged her and lit the proverbial fire under her to make her recognize her own potential and hunger for her place in the big world that existed outside their hometown.

There are several allusions in the book to Louisa being gang-raped inside the maze at the castle when she was younger. She says that this is when she stopped being fearless. I don't know that the dots were connected as strongly as I'd have liked within the book itself, but I see what the author was going for there. That was a defining point for her, and she spent years learning to be afraid. Meeting Will and working for him was a challenge for her, but it served to start undoing all of that fear she'd been living with since. Patrick had been safe. Maybe I just answered my own question about why she stayed with him for that long (even though I still feel like he was an afterthought and I hated his flat character).

I gave this 4 stars because, even knowing exactly what was going to happen, I still shed a few tears in the last 20 pages of the book. I was motivated to finish the last 165 pages in less than 24 hours due to an impending library due date, so I'm not sure if that was motivated by the fact that I have been living in this book for 24 hours, or that it was just really moving. Perhaps it's a little of both. I don't usually cry while reading books, so I give them credit when I do.

Even though there are parts of the book that I didn't love or even like so much, I still feel like I was invested and interested enough that I will likely read After You at some point.
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Reading Progress

February 18, 2017 – Started Reading
February 18, 2017 – Shelved
March 19, 2017 – Finished Reading

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