Thursday, March 7, 2013

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You (Pamela Dorman Books, 2012) by Jojo Moyes is a heart-wrenching, thoughtful and quirky read. Like much of British fiction, there is an emphasis on class differences. Coming from the blue collar world is Louisa Clark, a former cafe waitress with an eccentric fashion sense. Literature, classical music and travel are foreign to her. Then she takes a caretaker's job with a family on the posh side of town, near the local tourist attraction, an ancient castle. Thus the culture clash begins.

During the first weeks of caring for Will Traynor, a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic, she doubts everything about the job. Will is a moody soul who formerly climbed mountains and made a fortune in high finance. Now he is living in the annex of his parent's house. A medical attendant comes in every day. Louisa takes care of everything else. As Louisa slowly makes inroads with Will's defenses, he begins to take a liking to her. A bit of "My Fair Lady" develops here, wherein Will mentors Louisa, exposing her to many of the finer things about life.

SPOILER ALERT: When Louisa finds out that Will's parents plan to allow him to commit assisted suicide in Switzerland in 6 months, she is aghast. Soon she is plotting ways to inspire Will to choose life instead. This means she must get up to snuff technology-wise, actually go to the library to research all things quadriplegic. Louisa's boring boyfriend does not understand her attachment to Will. Her parents and family meet Will and very much like him. Here the plot begins to thicken. As the chapters fly, Will and Louisa grow closer than ever. You could say they have a mutual inspiration society, each encouraging the other to try new things. Perhaps you can guess where this is going. Will there be a happily-ever-after? I won't tell. These characters became quite real to me. There are also some sub-plots involving Louisa's family, not to mention developments with the Traynor family. Me Before You is quite captivating and unique, sure to make readers ponder some big questions.

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