Top positive review
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Made me laugh, made me cry ... loved it
on 15 November 2011
I've read a few of Jojo Moyes' previous books - Ship of Brides (loved), The Last Letter From Your Lover (adored) and The Peacock Emporium (meh) - but I think she's moved onto a whole new level with her latest offering.
Me Before You features Lou Clark, a bright but directionless young woman who drifts between dead-end jobs until she eventually (rather reluctantly) takes a post as a carer to a young man who has been left in a quadriplegic state following a road accident two years earlier. Will Traynor had a high-profile, well paid career and a very active lifestyle, until it was all taken away from him in the blink of an eye as he crossed the road to hail a taxi. To say he's bitter and angry about the hand life has dealt him would be an understatement. His family are at the end of their tether, and shortly after Lou is hired she hatches a desperate plan to try to convince Will that his life is worth living.
Sounds a bit grim and depressing? Well think again. I've never noticed much in the way of comedy in Moyes's novels before, but this book had me alternating between laughing out loud and smiling wryly (oh and crying - more of that later), and I was reminded very much of Marian Keyes in her prime. I loved the affectionate banter between Lou and her family and the not-so-affectionate (at first) verbal sparring between Lou and Will. (Their first meeting when he plays a particularly wicked trick on her is absolutely priceless.)
And now for the serious stuff. The subjects of quadriplegia and the rights of disabled people are dealt with sensitively and compassionately. The descriptions of Will's day to day existence, which involves relying on others for almost every aspect of his personal care, really hit home.
I saved the last 50 pages to read at home rather than on the train because I knew that, whatever the outcome, it was going to be emotional, but it's also a very uplifting and life-affirming read. It's not often that I become so emotionally involved in a storyline and the memory of this thought-provoking book and the wonderfully engaging characters Jojo Moyes has created will stay with me for a long time.
PS: The 'comment' below from Brian Kennedy (30.05.12) contains a MAJOR SPOILER - don't read it if you don't want to know how the book ends. I reported it to Amazon a few weeks ago but they haven't removed it yet.