(Image from Barnes & Noble)
At 26, Louisa "Lou" Clark is more or less content with her life. She has a steady job she enjoys, a long-time boyfriend with whom she's comfortable, and a close family that drives her crazy but provides her with a stable, loving home. Everything is fine until the owner of the café where Lou works unexpectedly decides to close his business and move. Money is tight at home; Lou can't afford not to work. Try as she might, however, she can't find gainful employment in her tiny English village.
At the end of her rope, Lou interviews for a job as a caregiver to a young, quadriplegic man. Although she has no experience, her bright personality and positive attitude win her the position. After all, Will Traynor already has a personal trainer to help him with his physical difficulties—what he needs (according to his mother, anyway) is someone to lift his spirits, to improve his emotional well-being. Lou isn't one to back away from a challenge, but when she meets the acerbic Will, she's tempted to quit on the spot. At first, it's only the obscene amount of money she's being paid that keeps Lou coming back. Gradually, however, she comes to understand and care for moody Will.
When Lou makes a shocking discovery, she launches a desperate plan to show Will that life is worth living. As she blunders along, she makes myriad mistakes, costly errors that only reinforce Will's view of his life as pointless. Can Lou convince him he's wrong? Can she prove to him how meaningful his existence can be? Will her love be enough to save him?
Despite all the rave reviews I'd seen for Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, it took me a long time to actually get to this novel. I don't know why, since the story grabbed me right from the beginning and still hasn't quite loosened its hold. It's a heart-wrenching tale (I bawled through the last 1/4 of the book), but one that is oddly life-affirming. For a story that deals with very serious subjects, it's also surprisingly funny and tender. Me Before You is one of those books that makes you think about things in a new way, making it a perfect book club read. Even though the ending made me mad, I loved this book. It's an emotional roller coaster ride that I still can't get out of my heart and mind. I recommend you read it with a box of tissues standing by—trust me, you'll need it.
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for language, sexual content, and brief references to the use of illegal drugs
To the FTC, with love: Another library