When the trailer for the movie adaptation of Jojo Moyes’ debut novel “Me Before You” came out, there were four things I noticed: Ed Sheeran’s “Photograph” dominating a large part of the trailer, Emilia Clarke saying “black and yellow stripes” with enthusiasm, Sam Claflin’s raised eyebrow look, and the rapid disappearance of all “Me Before You” novels from National Bookstore and FullyBooked branches. It must have been so evocative that people wanted to read about it before watching the film. I lingered for a little bit and when my sister told me “she’s a British Nicholas Sparks”, the first thing that entered my mind was “A Walk to Remember”. After a few days of reading Me Before You on my Kindle, I finally placed it down and pondered upon three things: life, love, and risk.
When Will Traynor was left a quadriplegic due to a road accident, his life is turned upside down and he is left pondering his existence: from a life of success and risk-taking to a life confined in his wheelchair and constant medical attention. His parent’s hoping to improve Will’s mental state hire Louisa Clark, a 27 year old, recently laid off local who has no ambitions whatsoever and lives under the shadow of her younger but smarter sister, Katrina. Their relationship, difficult at first, begins to blossom into friendship as the two learn to understand, appreciate and eventually teach one another about the finer things in life.
After reading the book it dawned on me that at certain moments in my life I haven’t been fulfilling my duty, which is to maximize and live life to its fullest. At certain moments in the novel, Will expounds on that by expanding Louisa/Lou’s world view, he takes her to a concert, asks her to watch a foreign film with him, savor the simplicity of enjoying coffee and pastries while people watching. His examples made me question whether I have travelled enough, experienced enough. Likewise Lou also teaches Will a thing or two, to live life despite his disability, oftentimes trying to convince him that his disability shouldn’t hinder him from enjoying the company of friends and family and also reminding him that he can still have the finer things in life.
Certainly the conversations between the two characters rubbed off on me, giving me anecdotes and insights into my own life. Lately I have questioned myself whether I have travelled or adventured enough to learn more about the world. Jojo Moyes’ book certainly challenged me to do some more out of my day-to-day routines. Another aspect I liked about the book was how riveting it gets as I got closer and closer to the end, instead of building the romance, Me Before You builds on ideas and then the romance becomes secondary. It certainly doesn’t slap its readers around with kisses, flowers, and proclamations of love. Absolutely perfect since I can’t stand another formulaic love story.
After all of the feel good emotions, the ending was just apt and there was a finality to Lou and Will’s story. No melodrama just another story where each protagonist got what they wanted and moved on with their lives with a lot of fanfare and no regrets. A good book and perfect for those times when you need a little bit of inspiration after months of working.