It’s a new year and there are so many new books to read and review! To start off the new year, I decided to read Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Despite the trite, generic title, I really enjoyed the majority of this book.
A basic summary: A young professional named Will Traynor is living in the middle of London (can’t you just hear the wonderful British accents!) and is at the top of his game. Then he gets hit by a motorcycle going very fast. After the accident, he is paralyzed from the neck down. Fast forward two years or so and we meet Louisa, an upbeat café worker with an affection for bright clothing, a work-out crazy boyfriend, and a fairly overbearing family who has suddenly lost her job. She gets hired to take care of Will and keep him company, and subsequently finds herself embroiled in the Traynor family drama.
It took me a while to really get into this story. It was all pretty underwhelming at first. Fairly slow moving and lethargic, I thought this book would be one that I finished solely because I started it. I imagined my review to say something about how I was basically bored through the whole thing. Moyes is telling the story of the day-to-day life of a quadriplegic and his caretaker. They don’t really do much.
As I really got into the book, however, I began to appreciate the strength of the Moyes’ prose is. When you stop and really read some of the longer description passages, (the ones that you would usually skip when pleasure reading to get to the good stuff, you know?) the book seems to almost completely evolve into something really great. She has a way with words, that Moyes does. I found myself really pulled into the town and the story in a way that I had been missing when I was so focused on the plot.
Moyes really flexes her writing muscle, however, in the construction of the characters. Case study: Camilla Traynor, Will’s mom. From Louisa’s perspective, Mrs. Traynor is a very cold woman whose limited affection for her children did not extend to cover paralysis. And then Moyes writes a chapter from her point of view, and there is a whole new Camilla on the page. The telling of her side of the story completely transforms the reads view of her. Moyes tells the mother’s point of view with heart-breaking honesty that I totally understood Camilla’s reactions to the different situations that unfold.
The result is characters abounding in layers that are pulled back slowly and keep the readers interested. I found myself completely enraptured in these characters, even the minor ones. Like Nathan, he’s my favorite. Probably the least developed character is actually the main one, Louisa. I feel like I know so much more about the other people in the book than I do about her. But she was fun and I enjoyed reading from her perspective.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. It’s not going to keep you on the edge of your seat in suspense, but it will definitely engage your mind and play with your emotions a bit.
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