I could not help but be drawn to the novel Me Before You after a barrage of positive reviews from family and friends, and I was even more drawn to the novel when a movie adaptation was announced. The author of Me Before You, Jojo Moyes, conjures an idiosyncratic story that revolves around a protagonist, Louisa Clark, who has recently found herself unemployed. Edging closer to thirty, Clark finds a peculiar job as a caregiver to William Traynor who is a C5/C6 quadriplegic in his mid-thirties. Traynor suffered an accident in which he became predominately paralyzed throughout his body. He suffers to efficiently adapt to a life in which he has fallen from his career, lover, and independence.
Moyes creates a story that is capable of filling your heart with pleasant optimism whilst simultaneously tugging on the old heart-strings with a fervor. I constantly found myself jostling between the humorous wit of the protagonist and the maudlin tones within the story. I found myself overcome with quite a few emotions ranging from contentment to heartbroken empathy. This novel sheds the light on the melancholy topic of what life is like for a quadriplegic, and how his accident not only drastically changes his life, but the life of those who love him.
I deeply admire a novel and author that is capable of instilling within the reader a sense of empathy and admiration towards the plight of an individual that society does not fully understand. A young man in the prime of his life is struck down from his good fortune, and he is sentenced to a life battling infections, immobility and, most difficultly, himself. We are personally transported into the home of a man who is now a recluse invalid and shown every private and painstaking facet of this man’s personal life.
This story may not be for each and every reader, but I certainly recommend this novel to an individual who is appreciative of a medium-paced novel that can truly alter the way you view your daily life. I mean, how would we all feel if tomorrow we were incapable of even doing the most intimate tasks with autonomy? How embarrassed and self-conscious would we all feel if the admiring glances we once knew turned only to pitiful sympathy and eyeing curiosity? Moyes addresses on a fundamental and personal level what it is truly like to live a life where you are a prisoner in your own body. Robbed of his independence, Traynor traverses the emotional trauma he has endured since his accident, and we truly are exposed to a heartbreaking novel that explores the shattered pieces of a man’s life.
I enjoyed reading this novel, and I even found myself smiling like a fool at some points of the story. I think Moyes deftly handles macabre subject matter with a sense of ease, and she is so capable of turning the story on a dime. I truly was unable to predict what emotion Moyes would evoke within me next. Therefore, I constantly found myself oscillating from jubilation to apprehension to sympathy while I read this story.
Finally, what truly struck me as an amazing facet of this novel was the decision that ultimately all the characters were faced with. Following the idiom of “If you love something, set it free,” Moyes leaves the reader with one question. What should you do if what makes the person you love truly happy completely destroys your own happiness and heart? I found this philosophical question to be truly engaging and entertaining throughout the story simply because I would not know what I would do. Is it better to instill happiness in a loved one by going without, or shall you be selfish as long as you are content? It may seem to some like a simple answer, but I truly enjoyed the journey of one woman coming to her own conclusion on this emotionally charged question in Me Before You.