Series: Me Before You #1
Published by Viking on 31 December 2012
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Source: Kindle Purchase
Reading Challenges: 2016 HW Challenge
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.
Me Before You is an emotional read, in which Lou finds herself, and Will makes a decision that can’t be taken back! This was a buddy read with Brandee @ Bookworm Brandee, and part of my review below is our chatting about it.
Me Before You is not only the story about Will, how he copes with being a quadriplegic, and how hard it is for him to depend on other people for every single thing he wants or needs to do. It is also the story of Lou, of finding herself, of figuring out what she wants to do with her life. Of living, rather than just existing. To be honest, I think I found Lou’s journey to be the focal point of the story, even when she peeved me out a little. There are several layers to her, and little by little, she opens up to Will to share why she has been merely existing for the past several years. Taking care of her parents, her sister, her sister’s son. Not asking anyone for anything, and being content with a boyfriend who is more interested in counting calories and training for Iron Man than he is with her and their possible future together.
Of course, there are parts of the story in Me Before You that touched my emotions, but this happened mostly towards the very end, and my tears at that point were more of a kind of release than extreme sadness. The subject matter is quite heavy, but one I’m fairly used to, as I live in Switzerland. We don’t tend to talk too much about assisted suicide here, because it’s something that is legal, and each person can take precautions to make sure their wishes will be heard if the unthinkable happens to them. I think it’s an important discussion to have, and Me Before You definitely opened up for that in a way that wasn’t clinical but rather emotional.
Chat with Brandee about Me Before You:
Me: So, what did you think of Lou and Will? and the whole assisted suicide thing?
Brandee: I adored Lou and Will. They broke my heart, both of them. And it was very interesting to read a book on assisted suicide since Sky did a debate earlier this year (school year) on ‘right to die’. I am a proponent of assisted suicide. However, as a parent, my heart went out to Will’s parents. What about you?
Me: They didn’t completely break my heart, but I did cry in the very end, when Lou ended up going to Switzerland to show him her support anyway. And I’m like you, I’m all for it, but it would definitely be difficult to help a child (even an adult one) go through with it. We wouldn’t really have to travel, though, it could be done at home.
And I thought the whole ‘why aren’t I enough’ part from Lou was more than a little selfish! She knew Will for six months, and while I do believe they both had very strong feelings for each other, I was a bit mad at her when she didn’t even want to speak to him after he told her that he was still going through with it. It truly must be awful to depend on people for every little thing, plus Will was in pain as well.
Brandee: So did you like Will and Lou? As I was sitting here thinking of that question, I was thinking that I could see where Lou would irritate you. wink emoticon But I cried so often while reading their story. As you know though, I’m hyper-emotional right now.
Assisted suicide is being debated in Colorado right now. It passed our Senate but hasn’t passed completely yet. But yet it’d be very hard to help a child go through with it.
Me: I loved both Lou and Will, and I thought that Lou really grew a lot thanks to working with Will, and asking herself some real questions about her life and what she wanted to do with it. Plus, I think it really helped both her and Will when she told him about what had happened in the maze.
My oldest son has said to me that if he had an accident and ended up quadriplegic, he’d want to die instead, because he couldn’t do any of the things he loves doing anymore…
Brandee: I was happy that Lou went to Switzerland in the end. I did think she was selfish in her reaction, but I also felt her reaction was understandable to a certain extent – realistic, even. I hated that it hurt Will though.
Me: In a way, her reaction was understandable, however, she only did see things from her own perspective, not Will’s. And I was so glad when he told her that the last six months – those with her – were the best he had after his accident.
Brandee: I liked watching Lou blossom. And I was so happy she shared what happened to her with Will. He was able to pull her out of that shell she’d put herself into. It was beautiful to see them both pull each other out. And it was interesting that they were both trying to convince the other to live. I liked that Will told Lou that as well.
Me: Yeah, because Lou had effectively been not living for longer than Will, she had just been existing.
Brandee: Do you think Lou telling Will about the maze helped him but letting his see why she was living the was she was?
Me: Yes, because that was a way for her to protect herself – she was with running-man because she didn’t really love him, but it was expected of her to be with someone at her age; she had worked at the café because it was safe, and she never wanted to leave the little village because it was safe for her there, with mostly people she already knew and tourists she could steer clear of.
Brandee: Oh, it absolutely was her way of protecting herself. Ugh! Running man…I hated that he got to the be the one to end things because really, Lou should have dumped him. But I understood.
What did you think of Lou’s relationship with her sister?
And how did you feel about her mother’s reaction to Lou at the end?
Me: I think she was just so comfortable with that relationship she didn’t really care. And I didn’t even really mind that he was the one to end it – it was really over in her heart long before that.
Brandee: That’s true. And I’m happy things ended before she was married and ‘stuck’ there.
Me: The sister was smart in many ways, but she was definitely taking advantage of the situation whenever she could.
Brandee: It bothered me that Lou’s parents were always telling her that Treena was the smart one.
Me: And Lou’s mother 🙁 I was not at all understanding where she came from!! What’s the biggest sin? ‘Making’ someone stay alive with medicine, or help them die, or even just let them die so they can be in peace?
Yeah, that’s not nice at all, and it was like they didn’t even try to understand her, but they were happy to take her money, of course.
Me: And so was Treena, but I guess that’s how it works in some families, where every person puts themselves first.
Brandee: Yes, well the religious side is the reason there’s even a debate over assisted suicide. I don’t understand it myself. I’ve said for many, many years that here in the US we treat our pets more humanely than our family.
But Lou’s mom…that made me so mad!
Me: True! And if they want it to be the way it was before, Will would have probably died when he had his accident, or the very first time he got pneumonia.
Yeah, Lou’s mom was really over the top! I wanted to smack her! Heap some more grief on your daughter, won’t you?
Brandee: I thought Treena was taking advantage. It bothered me, honestly.
Me: Oh, and Will’s mom… what did you think of her?
And Treena being all ‘I’m the smartest, and I have a child… you have to work, Lou, so I can follow my dream, my brain is going to waste’ *rolls eyes*
Brandee: *ha* Reading your last comment about Lou’s mom made me realize her whole family was a bit selfish.
Me: Her dad was the most supportive – and he really supported everybody! Working long hours, and not being too proud to take the job at the castle after he lost his job at the factory.
Brandee: I like Will’s mom…what we got to know of her. She made some comment about how her relationship with Will had always been difficult and I wondered why. I guess it was just Will’s personality. We did have that explained a bit near the end…how he’d been as a child. I didn’t understand her relationship with his dad…why all that had happened and why she was dealing with it the way she was. But then, I guess that’s a whole other story.
Yes, I did like Lou’s dad even if he talked down to her. He was supportive and he still stood by Lou in the end.
Me: I think some children kind of just don’t get along with their parents, Will seemed to be one who enjoyed doing the opposite of what was expected of him in some situations. And if he didn’t really get along with his mom, it must have been even harder to have to live at home again and depend on his parents after his accident!!
It seemed to me that Will’s mom and dad had possibly wanted to divorce before Will’s accident, but then, they stayed together afterwards to kind of care for him together? Not sure… That relationship sounded like a very clichéd upper class marriage to me.
Brandee: *sigh* WIll really did break my heart. To have to live like he was – and it not even have been caused by something he did. You know? He was hurt while jumping off a cliff…and I couldn’t imagine living life so fully, as he did, and then to end up living a life he hated.
Yes, I did feel their marriage was cliched. And I felt like Will’s dad wasn’t as committed to his wife’s cause with Will either.
So, who was your favorite character in the story?
Me: And I think that is a way that this book is very important! To show how difficult it is for someone who leads an active life, at the very beginning, he didn’t even want a vacation where he could relax, he wanted to jump from a parachute or something.
Then, nothing he could do on his own anymore. That was definitely tough to read about, but it didn’t completely gut me.
Brandee: I agree. It was important to show how unhappy Will’s circumstances would make him since there was nothing of his old life he could still enjoy. And he was certainly a thrill seeker.
Okay, okay – so I’m just a sap. Is that what you’re telling me?!? 😛
She is wearing one of his T-shirts, and her long hair is tousled in a way that prompts reflexive thoughts of the previous night.
Here, I could hear my thoughts. I could almost hear my heartbeat. I realized, to my surprise, that I quite liked it.
I realized that the anxiety that had held me in its grip all day was slowly ebbing away with every one of Will’s comments. I was no longer in sole charge of a poorly quadriplegic. It was just me, sitting next to a particularly sarcastic bloke, having a chat.