Me Before You by JoJo Moyes is a shocking and powerful story of two people caught in the riptides of their lives. It is also a controversial story of assisted suicide.
The story begins in Will’s point of view. In the Prologue, it’s 2007. Will walks out of his home and crosses the street. The author abruptly ends the chapter with Will getting hit by a vehicle. Chapter One is Louisa’s point of view in 2009. JoJo leaves us hanging about what happened with Will as Louisa takes over, but we don’t know it’s Louisa until a bit down in the chapter when Louisa’s mother asks Louisa who it is who walked through the front door. JoJo gets a bit better about guiding us in later chapters as she names the different point of views. For most of the novel, it’s mostly Louisa’s point of view as she falls in love with now quadriplegic, Will.
Will lived an active and successful life and career before the accident. This causes him to hate his new life so much so that he doesn’t see beyond his limitations. He can’t imagine life without the Will he was before the accident. He is so blind that he doesn’t see the mental stimulation Louisa brings. While sex isn’t possible in their relationship, Louisa is willing to take on the challenges of loving Will forever, but for now she is a paid caregiver; a paid, inexperienced caregiver from the wrong side of town.
Louisa is one of those girls with no goals, following after the shifting currents of everyone else’s wants and needs, including a boyfriend named Patrick. Patrick seems to love having a door mat for a girlfriend. Louisa supports him even as he neglects her and it is only when she spends more and more time with Will that Patrick expresses his displeasure, even his jealousy. It’s when he tries harder to win Louisa for the first time in their long courtship that Louisa moves in with Patrick. Her unusual personality though doesn’t fit into Patrick’s neat life. Louisa feels alone in her struggles in keeping Will alive, and her sister, at times, is both her enemy and her friend; treating her like a doormat, but also coming to her rescue towards the end of the novel as Will is determined to end his life.
It’s an unusual love story written exceptionally well. The author successfully drew me in with her unique voice as she told Will and Louisa’s story. Louisa shows transformation as Will’s influence makes her a better person. Becoming a better person also draws some respect from her family whom previously thought of her as a immature person who couldn’t hold a job and seemed to have no direction in life. Will, however, doesn’t change much. His family had brought in Louisa to dissuade Will from his determination to not go to Switzerland and commit suicide. While exploring the topic of assisted suicide, JoJo presented both sides of this controversial subject, except for the spiritual side of things.
Withheld from this wonderful story is God’s purpose for us as individuals and that is shown in other real-world examples, like Nick Vujicic and Joni Eareckson Tada. When Will crushes Louisa’s hopes for a long-term relationship by going through with his plans for suicide, he asks Louisa to come with him and say goodbye. Louisa is angry and crushed. As most people who consider assisted suicide, they cannot see beyond their own pain or the long-term emotional and/or legal consequences of their actions on others. Suicide is entirely selfish. Me Before You is a beautiful and heartbreaking story, but due to some point of view issues and some sentence structures which made me read twice, I gave this novel four stars.
*Book given by publisher to review.