Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
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.
Here’s what I thought:
I had heard a lot of good things about this book before I started it, although I honestly didn’t know anything about the plot, other than one friend telling me it was a tear-jerker. I think in a way this was a good thing, as it’s a pretty intense situation that is presented, and I might have had preconceived notions or opinions that could have colored my reading of the book. Instead, I really got to know the main characters, Louisa and Will, before the central problem of the book is revealed.
Louisa (Lou) is in her mid-20’s, somewhat naive, and has lived a fairly sheltered life in the bosom of her working-class family. She’s never really been anywhere or done anything, having suffered a personal trauma that has made her skittish of life. At the same time, she has an unconventional fashion sense and loves bright and colorful things, she’s chatty and generally upbeat and positive.
Will has suffered his own trauma, a dramatic accident that leaves him a quadraplegic. After having lived as a privileged high-flying businessman as well as an active sportsman and ladies’ man, the transition to a small life, confined to a chair, is devastating to him. After she loses her job as a local cafe, Lou is hired by Will’s family to be his companion, to basically cheer him up and to make him see that life can still be worth living.
And so it begins–a relationship that will change both Lou and Will forever. Most of the book is devoted to the development of this relationship, as it affects the principle characters as well as their other relationships and their general situations in life. There are lots of ups and downs in the story, and I thought that the way it was presented was realistic and quite gripping, despite their being little in the way of action or major plot developments. It’s a quiet story, but one that is well worth reading for the bigger questions it explores about what it means to love someone and how we choose to live our lives.
My one complaint about the book would be with the character of Lou, who I didn’t really ever connect with on a personal level. She is in many ways a contradiction, supposedly this sort of bohemian free spirit and yet actually very passive when it comes to her own life. She seems to have a hard time making any choices for herself, rather letting herself be swept along by other people’s wants and needs. Will, on the other hand, comes across as much more mature and believable as a character, and I liked him a lot. I was never really sure what he saw in Lou, other than a sort of prodigy that he could mold by exposing her to a bit of culture and the wider world.
Overall though, Me Before You is a well-written and thought-provoking book, and I would definitely recommend it.
Thanks so much to Edelweiss and Pamela Dorman Books for providing me with a review copy of this book.
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