I was reading this novel by UK author JoJo Moyes on a recent trip to Toronto. On the flight home, I was sitting beside an elderly lady who was also reading. As I reached the last 100 pages, I silently started to cry. It didn’t stop until I turned the last page.
The lady next to me noticed, and at one point put her hand on my arm and said “are you alright, dear?”, to which I replied, “yes, thank you… it’s just very moving.”
She nodded, as though she understood. “Well I hope you’re enjoying it, too.” And she turned back to her own book.
I thought about this. I was enjoying the novel, but it was more than that. I was totally emotionally involved, invested and consumed – something I hadn’t experienced in a while.
I’m not compelled to review every novel I read, but this one left its mark on me. I now have the overwhelming desire to encourage everyone I know to read it.
It’s hard to describe the beauty, complexity and depth of the story, but I’ll try and give a high-level summary. Lou is a working-class, 20-something, still living at home and supporting her family, including her sister’s son. When she loses her steady job at a neighbourhood café, she is forced to accept a six-month contract caring for Will, a wealthy young man recently made quadriplegic in a motorcycle accident.
Lou, robbed of her once-ambitious desire to explore the world beyond her tiny blue-collar town by a haunting encounter with a pack of drunk boys at a young age, has never truly lived. Will, previous to his accident, had the life most people only dream of. Lou might not know what she’s missing, but Will certainly does.
The pair immediately hate each other, and Lou swears she’ll quit, but the money is too good. She stays, putting up with Will’s constant moodiness and general disdain for life. Over time, they begin to understand each other a bit better, until Lou discovers there’s more to Will’s story that she was led to believe.
I can’t tell you anything else because it would ruin the story, and I’m really hoping you’ll read it. I can, however, tell you that the novel addresses a timely, contentious human rights issue that is going to be increasingly at the forefront of international debate. Intricate and emotional, Moyes possesses the unique ability to paint real characters and painfully relatable situations.
You might remember me writing about Me Before You in my post entitled Books I can’t wait to read (before I’d read it, obviously). In that post, I said this:
I blame the Chapters Indigo marketing team entirely for my obsession with this novel. They sent me an email with the subject line “Your book club will love this.” It’s like they were speaking directly to me! I opened the email, did some research and found things like “the ultimate love story” and “the greatest romance since The Notebook“. The reviews on Goodreads were even more complementary – one hesitant male reader, who insists it is not a love story, referred to it as “the best book [he's] read so far this year”.
Well, love story or not… Chapters Indigo had me with that email. I have a feeling this is going to be good – really really good.
Well… my predictions were right on the money. The guy on Goodreads was right, though… it’s not a love story in the traditional sense. It’s romantic, sure, but not really a love story. It’s much more profound and deep than that. And, just to be clear, your book club will love this novel. It’s more than unputdownable – it’s unforgettable, too.
Have I convinced you? Will you pick up Me Before You after reading this review?