“Me Before You” by British novelist Jojo Moyes is about two people who have little in common, and yet are drawn together, with resulting changes in both of their lives. It is part love story and part a story about taking control of one’s own life.
The author looks at the limitations people experience in their own lives. Louisa’s limitations are emotional; Will’s are physical.
Louisa (Lou) Clark is 26, an English country girl. She works at the Buttered Bun, a tourist café near an old castle, still lives with her parents and is in a long-term and uninteresting relationship. Lou loses her job as a waitress and has to find other employment.
She signs a six-month contract for a high-paying job as a caregiver for Will Traynor, a 35-year-old quadriplegic. Will was a very active athlete, a world traveler and a successful London businessman until an accident left him paralyzed.
The prologue explains Will Traynor’s life before the accident. His mother has since tried everything to help him adjust to his new circumstances at their family home, Granta House, at the foot of Storford Castle.
When she interviews Louisa, Will’s mother notes that her previous boss called her a “warm, chatty and life-enhancing presence.” So, even though Lou has no medical training and knows nothing about caring for someone in a wheelchair, Will’s mother hires her.
This is a challenge for Lou, who has to learn to deal with Will’s constant pain and infections, along with the procedures and equipment required to maintain a standard of life for him.
Lou tries to change Will’s attitude about life, especially when she finds out that his plan is to commit suicide in six months’ time. She wants to change Will’s mind by trying to engage him in a series of what she calls adventures.
But Will is frustrated with Lou’s refusal to experience anything beyond their small English town. She is willing to broaden herself and learn only if he will teach her. “Me Before You” is bittersweet at times, funny and moving at others and raises some thoughtful questions.