JoJo Moyes’ novel Me Before You was a romantic drama that at the very least actually did shock me a little bit. Parts of it were melodramatic and unbelievable—such as the main character, Louisa, never having used a computer/the Internet in 2012—but overall I guess it was fine to read. I definitely didn’t hate it, but I don’t feel like it’s going to be a novel that I remember for the rest of my life either.
To sum it up, Louisa lives in a very small town outside of London working at a cafe that gets shut down. After a few brief stints in positions that didn’t work for her, she finally got a job working as a caregiver for a quadriplegic man. And from there, you just know they’re going to fall in love. My eyes may have gotten stuck in a permanently unflattering position from all the rolling they did.
So Louisa falls in love with the sarcastic, douchey, ex-big shot lawyer that she’s caring for, Will, and I think (???) he fell in love with her as well. It was hard to see the relationship working since he was paralyzed below the waist with movement only in one arm, and when he pointed this out to her, she could only respond with a feeble, “But I love you, we’ll make it work.”
Anyway so one day at work, Louisa overhears a conversation where she discovers that the entire reason she was hired was with the hopes that within six months time she’d change Will’s mind about wanting to commit suicide at a Swiss facility that provides consented suicides. This family puts a helluva lot of trust into the hands of a girl who has only ever worked in a cafe and has no life goals to speak of, but like no pressure.
Maybe I don’t understand her family dynamic because I don’t have a sister, but it seemed like every single person hated Louisa. Her sister, dad, and boyfriend were all constantly making fun of her for the way she dressed, how she styled her hair, how her body shape wasn’t ideal, and how she was generally unmotivated and dense. Her entire fictional existence made me exceedingly sad as she went through her day to day motions not pursuing anything while everyone made fun of her. But, of course, she’s alleviated from her own depressing existence by the heroic, strong-willed male character, as women in novels and movies often are. This particular case really struck a chord with me because it all seemed so exaggerated: Will was a very rich and successful businessman while Louisa worked at a small cafe in a small town and lived with her poor parents at age 27 with no dreams or goals to speak of. Yet they fall in love because she’s chatty and bubbly and wears quirky clothing. However—and here’s the only part that did shock me—it wasn’t enough love for him to reconsider killing himself. I honestly would have been really pissed off if he decided to live just to be with her. The biggest kicker is that after he kills himself, he leaves a TON of money behind for her so she can pursue college (which she only applied to because he essentially told her to) and move out to live by herself. So even though he isn’t there, he hopes to have some stake in her future and the direction it ebbs into, as if he deserves credit for what happens to her life even though he decided he doesn’t want to be in it anymore.
I’m just so sick of stories where a woman finds self-worth and newly discovered confidence solely due to the influences of a new man in her life. This novel just happened to take it to a bit more of an extreme where this girl was extra pathetic and this guy was extra amazing so she can have extra great life now. I have a headache from rolling my damn eyes.