Fair warning – this review is going to have spoilers. Because this book made me FEEL THINGS and I need to talk about it!
Ok summary time!
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. – Goodreads
Moyes writes beautifully and it’s quite easy to become fully immersed in the story. I felt for Lou and Will, and fervently hoped for the best. There has been some controversy about Moyes’ portrayal of Will, a newly quadriplegic person, but I can’t speak to that. What I can speak to, is Will’s depression. I have had depression for years, and I have been suicidal before. I know how dark it can get, and I know that I couldn’t have made it without professional help and the support of my family. Pay attention to that last part – family. Will’s family failed him, and reading about it filled me with a red hot rage.
Will, depressed with his new lot in life, decides to try and kill himself. He doesn’t succeed, but he’s determined to try again. He informs his parents that he plans to arrange it with a clinic in another country, where euthanasia is legal. His parents, understandably horrified, convince him to put his plans on hold for six months. Six months, a brief reprieve to give his family the chance to help him find the will to live. So what do they do? Do they move heaven and earth to get him professional help? Medication? Support groups with other people experiencing the same thing? Nope – they hire a young, completely inexperienced woman to keep him company. Because she’s chatty. What. The. Fuck.
So, clueless Lou stumbles along, because of course Will’s parents don’t tell her the score. Let’s waste months of possible opportunities to help Will, because telling the truth is just too unseemly. Once Lou figures it out, she tries numerous things to reintroduce Will to the world. She starts simply, by setting him up with adaptive software so that he can use a computer again, while his mother works too much and his father sleeps around. Useless.
I know, I know – these characters and Lou’s hiring are devices used to set up a possible romance between Lou and Will. I get it, but I can’t suspend my disbelief to completely enjoy it.
Would is surprise you to hear that I’m still giving this book 5/5? Becoming emotionally invested in fictional characters is a sure sign of a great book. And make no mistake, this book is great. It was recently adapted into a film – I’m looking forward to seeing it. And Moyes has written a sequel, which I can’t wait to pick up. So yes, you should definitely give Me Before You some space on your bookshelf.