If you asked her, Louisa Clark would tell you that she lives an ordinary life in Stortford. She is close with her family and has a steady boyfriend in Patrick. She’s never even been outside her hometown. But when the cafe that she works in closes down, Louisa finds herself being a caregiver to the once enigmatic Will Traynor, who grew up privileged in the castle that she lives so close to.
Will Traynor was once a master of the universe, but you wouldn’t know that from looking at him now. He’s wheel chair bound, moody, angry, and depressed by his inability to take care of himself without the help of others.
This unlikely pair find solace in each other. Will encourages Louisa to come out of her shell, while Louisa helps Will to see that there is still good and happiness in the world even if he’s wheelchair bound. Together they conquer the world, fall in love, and convince each other about what life is really about and what our choices mean for ourselves and others.
Me Before You is an unusual sort of love story. As a reader, I felt a tense expectation. I had figured out early on what Will wanted to do at the end of Louisa’s six month tenure and yet I still had a small sliver of hope that things would change differently. I found Louisa and Will to be a refreshing dynamic couple, one that filled out the realistic lives of actual people while still holding the breath of uncertainty that one finds in books. I instantly connected with Louisa because I too inhabit a small world in which I go to work and fill out the rest of my days with books, family, and little every day things. Will is a man who has everything and had the privileged air of expecting everything to come to him. When that is all taken away from him, his sense of identity is stripped away from him. How can such an active, physical man be forced to be confined to a wheelchair not able to move for the rest of his life?
This book brings up so many real issues. Are we really living our lives? Can we be content with the small worlds we create for ourselves or do we need to push ourselves out more and see what is out there? And how do our choices affect the lives of others? Do we have a right to act upon our choices regardless of the feelings and thoughts of others? How do our actions towards those who are disabled change their attitudes and outlooks and how can we change these actions and outlooks to be more inclusive and supportive?
I don’t know the answers to these questions. I know that I didn’t agree with what Will decided to do, but I can see how our society sets it up to a certain extent to make people like Will want to make the choices that he did. A lot of people are making an uproar about the author’s decision to make Will the way he was. And I agree with them to a certain extent, because we shouldn’t make disabled people feel less about themselves or not a part of society because of the way they are. At the same time, I think the way that Moyes wrote the book can be a good thing. Why? Because it’s getting us to talk about the whole subject in general. Would we have been talking about it if she hadn’t wrote it and if a movie hadn’t been made about it? Maybe, maybe not. But at least it’s bringing the issue to the forefront.