Published by Pamela Dorman Books/Viking on December 31st 2012
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.
I’d seen Me Before You on a couple of blogs so when I saw it at the charity shop I thought I’d give it a try. To be honest, the synopsis didn’t really appeal to me at first but in the end I loved this book. Me Before You is about Will Traynor, a rich, active businessman, whose life is turned upside down when he is involved in a motorcycle accident and paralysed from the chest downwards. His mother is desperate to find a full-time day carer for him and finds Louisa Clark, a recently unemployed young woman who doesn’t have any qualifications. At first, Will and Lou don’t get along at all, but they learn a lot from each other as time goes on. This is a heartbreaking story about two people whose lives are irrevocably changed from the moment they meet.
Me Before You is written from the first person perspective of Lou, the female protagonist. Lou is a really likable character and I thoroughly enjoyed reading her narrative because she’s really funny and fearless but also sensitive and unique. She is the sort of girl who wears yellow and black striped tights even though she’s twenty seven and you can’t help but love her. I really connected with her character and felt both her happiness and her pain as I read this book. There are a couple of chapters which give us an insight into the minds of some other characters including Will, Nathan (Will’s medical carer), Camilla (Will’s mother) and Katrina (Lou’s sister). The book starts off with a small chapter from Will’s perspective on the day of his accident which is great because it means you can really understand what Will was like before his accident and see the tremendous difference afterwards.
The story line of this novel is the most moving I have ever read. It makes you think about what it would really be like to be completely paralysed, which I doubt many people have seriously considered. This book gives you an insight into what life might be like for those with physical disabilities but also those around them. Obviously I’m still nowhere near truly understanding the life of a quadraplegic but Me Before You really inspired me to find about more about how I can help those less fortunate than myself. This isn’t the sort of book I usually read, in fact, I usually avoid ‘illness’-related books but I seriously regret keeping this book on my shelf, unread, for the past year.
This is a completely different sort of romance to any that I’ve read before because it doesn’t really involve any physical touching and, in fact, it’s not even really mentioned until the last few passages of the book. Even though it is not explicit, you can feel a connection developing between the characters, a real connection mind you, and not the whimsical ones you often find in romance books. This is, without a doubt, the most beautiful and heartbreaking love story I have ever read in my entire life. This is the sort of love that creeps up on you when you least expect it. There was one moment whilst reading this that I actually started sobbing (full on sobbing) and I had to put the book down for five minutes whilst I got all my emotions out. This was not the only time I cried whilst reading this novel, oh no, I was pretty much crying not stop for the entirety of the second half and this book touched my heart in a way that no other book has. In some ways, you could call this an adult version of The Fault in Our Stars, as there are similar-ish issues explored, but I was much more moved by Me Before You – if that’s even possible!
Lou and Will learn a lot from each other as the book progresses, so in turn, I learnt a lot too. I think reading this book may have even made me a better person because I certainly have a completely changed perspective on quadriplegics, on life and on love. I cannot recommend this book enough, it is absolutely phenomenal and a must-read for everyone. I didn’t think that this sort of book was for me and now it’s my favourite book, so please give it a chance! For teenage readers, if you liked TFIOS, then Me Before You is probably also up your street. For adult readers, anyone with a heart will love this book.