ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes

I got an ARC of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes quite a while ago – December – but it has gotten so much good buzz in the book blogosphere that I bumped it up the endless and slow moving TBR list earlier this month and gave it a try. Me Before You is about an unlikely pair in England – Will, a thirty-five year old Master of the Universe who gets hit by a car, rendering him a paraplegic, and Louisa, the underachieving working-class woman who takes a job out of desperation to be his daytime companion. At first, these two have absolutely nothing in common, and don’t even like each other. But Louisa and Will eventually learn to live with each other, and their relationship grows into something much deeper.

Me Before You is a beautifully paced book. Will and Louisa’s relationship grows so gradually and naturally that it is completely believable. This is no Hollywood rom com – these are two people for whom a future is very unlikely. Yet their interactions are vibrant and convincing, making these two come alive within the pages of Me Before You and establishing Will and Lou as one of the more memorable pairs I have come across in fiction.

It’s also a very thoughtful book that takes on the tough questions surrounding euthanasia. Does someone who desires to end his life owe it to those who love him to keep on living? How is quality of life measured – and should it be? Can expectations be altered so drastically that the unthinkable can become acceptable? Those trying to keep Will focused on a positive future – Lou, Will’s parents – come into deep conflict with Will’s desperation to escape his predicament – and Moyes keeps her readers guessing how it will resolve until the very end.

Me Before You isn’t a perfect book. The book is narrated entirely by Lou, with the exception of three brief chapters that are narrated by other characters, apparently to convey perspective and events that would be impossible in Lou’s voice. This seemed kind of lazy to me – surely there are other plot devices that could have accomplished the same without resorting to a brief – and jarring – narration change. There were also a few places where Moyes was needlessly unsubtle. I wish she had given her readers more credit and trusted that they could connect a few dots without her drawing the line for them.

But those are minor quibbles. Me Before You is a very worthwhile read – it manages to be enjoyable, heartbreaking, and provocative at the same time. I think it will stay with me for a long time.