Me Before You by author Jojo Moyes

Falling in Love and Letting Go – A Review of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes


Jojo Moyes’ romantic drama Me Before You tells an emotional story that poses thoughtful questions about life, death, and letting go. Through dynamic characters and a touching narrative, Moyes crafts a novel that engages readers’ hearts and minds.

The story follows Louisa “Lou” Clark, a quirky, directionless 26-year-old who lives with her working-class family in a small English town. Struggling to find her place in the world, Lou takes a job as a caretaker for Will Traynor, a wealthy, intelligent 35-year-old who became a quadriplegic after being hit by a motorcycle two years earlier.

Me Before You by author Jojo Moyes

You can find Me Before You by author Jojo Moyes on your favorite bookstore, including and Amazon UK.

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About author Jojo Moyes

Author Jojo Moyes

Jojo Moyes is a bestselling British novelist known for her engaging stories about love, family, and overcoming adversity. Since publishing her first novel in 2002, Jojo has captured the hearts of millions of readers worldwide with her empathetic characters and ability to tackle difficult themes with warmth and wisdom.

Though she dabbled in a variety of genres early in her career, Jojo is best known today for her uplifting romantic dramas. Her breakout hit Me Before You, published in 2012, tells the story of Louisa, a small-town girl who becomes caregiver to Will, a banker left paralyzed after an accident. Though their relationship starts uneasy, the two eventually form a profound bond that challenges their perceptions of commitment and what makes a fulfilling life. The book was a word-of-mouth sensation, spending over a year on the New York Times bestseller list.

The sequel After You followed in 2015, as did the movie adaptation of Me Before You starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin. Jojo continues the story of beloved characters Lou and the Traynor family in her more recent novels Still Me and One Plus One.

Beyond these fan-favorite books, Jojo has shown her versatility over a 20-year career. She’s written award-winning historical fiction like The Girl You Left Behind. Psychological thrillers including The Last Letter from Your Lover. And contemporary fiction such as The Giver of Stars and Paris for One weaving in everything from World War II to horseback librarians. While each Jojo Moyes book explores different themes and settings, they share an overarching message of cherishing the beauty of ordinary lives.

Fans around the globe connect deeply with Jojo’s kind-hearted stories. Her books have sold over 35 million copies worldwide and been translated into 44 languages. Jojo herself is a #1 New York Times and international bestselling novelist many times over. She’s won accolades ranging from the RNA Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year Award to France’s Prix de lecteur Goodreads.

Born in London, Jojo studied at King’s College and worked as a journalist prior to literary success. She now lives in Essex with her husband and three children. When not writing from her treehouse office, she enjoys riding horses, reading, and supporting community initiatives for people with disabilities.

Approachable and down-to-earth in person, Jojo is known for her warmth with fans as much as her empathy on the page. With several film projects in development and a new novel arriving in 2023, Jojo Moyes remains a powerhouse storyteller celebrated for her inspiring messages about overcoming hardship and embracing life’s complexities with an open and compassionate spirit.

Facing Hardships Head-On

At first, Lou and Will clash. Where Lou is chatty and vivacious, Will is brooding and cynical. Burdened by his disability and believing his fulfilling life is over, Will has sued his parents for the right to die through assisted suicide. Yet spunky, bright-sided Lou refuses to let Will give up. As she strives to get Will to embrace life again, a funny, heartwarming bond blossoms between them.

Love Can Overcome All Obstacles…Can’t It?

Through Lou’s colorful anecdotes, her quirky fashion sense, and her caring nature, she injects much-needed joy into Will’s dreary world. In turn, Will broadens Lou’s limited horizons by mentoring her and encouraging her capabilities. As their camaraderie deepens into love, Lou convinces Will to reluctantly embark on a last-chance vacation together. There, they savor intimate moments that make Will abandon his assisted suicide plans.

But Will True Love Be Enough?

Upon returning home, however, Will shocks Lou by reaffirming his resolution to die on a date six months into the future. Anguished, Lou pleads with Will not to leave her. Yet underneath Will’s decision lies an inescapable reality: as a quadriplegic, his disabling condition will forever prevent him from living life on his own terms. In Will’s mind, only death can “set him free.”

An Impossible Choice

Thus, Lou faces an excruciating dilemma between fighting to keep Will with her versus letting him go for his sake. As their final days speed by, Lou and Will must confront life’s hardest question: what does one do when love simply isn’t enough?

Complex Characters Undergoing Transformations

One reason why this tragic love story tugs at our heartstrings lies in how Moyes creates dynamic characters we relate to. Both Lou and Will embark on inner journeys that reveal the multifaceted nature of people.

Lou’s Metamorphosis from Girl to Woman

At the start, 26-year old Lou epitomizes a young adult struggling with arrested development. Directionless, lacking self-esteem and her capabilities, Lou hides behind a bubbly, positive facade while fearing taking charge of her life. However, as she rises to the challenges of caring for cynical Will, Lou gains emotional maturity.

Discovering Her Passion

Moreover, through Will exposing Lou to foreign films, literature, and global affairs, she discovers a confidence within herself and a hunger to keep learning and traveling the world. By daring to love Will, Lou transforms from an insecure girl into an empowered young woman who uncovers her passion for living.

The Different Sides of Will

In similar fashion, Will transcends the cynical disabled stereotype to reveal his complexities over his two-year journey. While understandably resentful of his condition for costing him his high-powered life, foreign adventures, and extreme sports, we also glimpse Will’s former vibrancy and compassion.

A Softer Side Emerges

Through Lou’s persistence and playful banter, Will incrementally sheds his sullen veneer to display increasing shades of humor, generosity, vulnerability and warmth. A man who Had everything only to lose it all…yet discovers hope and love. In essence, Lou draws out the soul behind Will’s disability.

Their Counterbalance Works Both Ways

Indeed, Will and Lou’s outward differences—her chatterbox personality versus his brooding intellect—conceal an underlying symmetry. Will’s adventurous worldliness balances Lou’s limited perspectives while Lou’s joie de vivre pulls Will out of his embittered shell. Together they form two half souls healing each other. Their ensuing personal growth highlights how people can transform lives by giving our best to others when they need it most.

Weighty Themes That Resonate

While on the surface a tear-jerking romance, Me Before You also packs an emotional punch by grappling with profound, universal life questions. Moyes effectively uses Will’s condition to trigger deeper debates.

Facing Our Mortality

Foremost is how the ever-present reality of death should shape whether life feels worth living. After his motorcycle accident, Will lost nearly everything that gave his existence meaning—his fast-paced career, extreme physicality, globetrotting independence, and autonomy over his body functions. Unable to reconcile massive loss alongside complete physical dependence, Will convinces himself that only dying affirms seizing control.

An Understandable Perspective

His stance provokes soul-searching: were we in Will’s shoes prioritizing freedom and mobility, wouldn’t death seem tempting? through this lens, Moyes compels us to confront how perceiving life as limited and diminished distorts concluding existence loses meaning altogether.

The Duty to Live – Or to Die?

Relatedly, Will’s fierce battle against Lou’s attempts to stop his suicide bid brings up complex tensions between personal liberties versus moral obligations. Does perpetuating Will’s life against his will imply that the disabled lack self-determination rights? Or as a suicidal quadriplegic, can Will rationalize what constitutes a valid quality of life?

A Slippery Ethical Slope

Me Before You plunges us into profoundly messy yet necessary discussions. Moyes refuses easy answers around the ethics of right to die when severe disability catastrophically alters everything. Instead, through Wil’s Freedom to end life prematurely versus Lou struggling to halt his choice, Moyes highlights an unavoidable tension. For in capacitating Will’s body, has his injury simultaneously elevated yet distorted his mind’s eye about deciding life’s value?

Love’s Limits

Ultimately, underpinning the whole narrative lies a universal question – can even unconditional love prove inadequate next to suffering? Through Lou remaining alongside supporting Will regardless of his disability and lowered capabilities, Moyes accentuates love’s redemptive powers. Yet by highlighting love’s limits in altering Will’s choice, the story poignantly reminds us that loving someone perfectly doesn’t necessarily fix whatever plagues their soul.

Letting Go with Dignity

Hence when Lou ultimately stops fighting Will’s decision, her agony reflects the excruciating difficulty of how true love sometimes means letting go against every instinct. Yet her final allowing Will’s death with dignity underscores that perhaps the greatest gift is empowering those we care for most to take charge of their destinies. Even when it devastates us by taking them permanently away.

A Compelling Emotional Roller Coaster

In ways both heart wrenching yet beautiful, Me Before You immerses readers into two people’s unexpected emotional collision as sudden disability upends life’s directions. By developing Lou and Will into multidimensional individuals undergoing profound personal metamorphosis, Moyes constructs compelling protagonists who pull us deeply into their worlds.

Laughter and Tears

Moyes adeptly balances lighter moments showcasing Lou’s spirited efforts against Will’s darker tendencies. Thus we smile, laugh and shed tears alongside them with each fluctuant high and low. The ensuing journey elicits hope then sorrow then comfort about love’s capacity to uplift souls – while spotlighting love’s eventual limits against affliction or mortality’s finality.

An Unflinching yet Compassionate Eye

Without sugarcoating grim realities about quadriplegia and death, Moyes also resists maudlin tropes around disability and right to die dilemmas. Instead her honest yet empathetic handling of stigmatized topics compels self-reflection. By daring readers to confront messy questions about life’s meaning and ending alongside moral obligations surrounding self determination, Moyes gains our investment into each fateful outcome.

A Touching Depiction of Human Resilience

Ultimately, whether experiencing permanent paralysis, caretaker stresses, or the torment of losing soul mates, Me Before You conveys how loving bonds cultivate human capacities for resilience. Without minimizing respective struggles or glossing over heart break, Moyes pays tribute to the strength gained in uplifting each other’s spirit against all odds…even when parting ways.

An Ode to Healing Through Hope

Somehow rather than leaving audiences in despair, the story’s final poignancy feels like a celebration. One honoring how true partnerships change each other for the better before death parts them. Not through unrealistic happy endings but through Moyes’ treating tribulations with dignity. Thereby she transforms what seems a tragedy into an uplifting ode about love and rediscovered purpose healing lives right until the end.

If Me Before You resonates on your must-read shelf, consider adding these 5 similarly moving novels about life’s preciousness and hard choices to your book queue:

1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Witty, cynical teens Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters, who meet in a cancer patient support group, embrace love and adventure knowing illness likely limits their time.

2. Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott

Two courageous teenagers with cystic fibrosis battle dangerous medical risks by daring to fall in love, grappling with questions of life quality versus uncertainty.

3. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

A gifted neurosurgeon facing terminal cancer seeks answers on how to live meaningfully even as his medical career ends prematurely through illness.

4. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

After years yearning for a child, a lighthouse keeper couple makes a morally wrenching decision upon a rescue boat with an infant washing ashore.

5. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

In 1940s North Carolina, young Allie Nelson falls desperately in love with poor yet passionate Noah Calhoun before class differences tear them apart.

So if you relished reading about Lou and Will’s star-crossed dilemma between fulfilling love and painful loss, these 5 stirring books also capture emotional journeys seeking light against life’s hardest trials.

Conclusion: A Compelling Ode to Love and Letting Go

Over 12 heartrending weeks, Will and Lou powerfully demonstrate love’s capacity to redeem spirits yet also love’s eventual futility against some afflictions. Without sugarcoating harsh realities yet still celebrating souls bonding as one until the inevitable end, JoJo Moyes crafts an elegy that reminds us life and loss remain inexorably intertwined. Through escapable heartbreak and tears, Moyes nonetheless leaves audiences uplifted about human connections and one young woman’s personal blossoming.

Destiny Can Break People – Yet Also Flower Their Potential

By depicting Lou and Will as complex characters transforming amid their romantic tragedy, Moyes accentuates that destiny cripples certain hopes beyond healing. Yet before destiny concludes lives too soon, it can also profoundly flower human potential. Thereby in bittersweet details, Me Before You urges grabbing happiness and passion whenever one finds a soul mate, however briefly…

Before letting go with grace when even true love cannot surmount personal thresholds for suffering. By daring readers to feel the fullness of such bitter yet precious waters, Moyes stirs our spirits to live courageously. Thus we too may one day leave the world moved by others and at peace with ourselves when our end draws nigh.


What is the genre and basic storyline of Me Before You?

Me Before You is contemporary romance fiction that tells the story of Louisa Clark, who takes a job as caregiver and companion to Will Traynor, a wealthy banker who was paralyzed in an accident. As they spend time together, barriers break down between them and they each find what they need most to recover themselves. Their relationship faces obstacles relating to Will’s condition and outlook that test them both profoundly.

What real-world social issues does Me Before You explore?

Me Before You delves deeply into ethical questions around assisted suicide and quality of life for those with severe disabilities. It puts a very human face on complex personal scenarios involving independence, dignity, and the right to self-determination. The story unpacks the web of impacts that one person’s choice has on those around them who care.

What makes the two central characters compelling?

Louisa and Will are opposites who help balance each other out. Louisa brings optimism, humor and relentless effort to brighten Will’s days. Well-read and quick-witted Will stimulates Louisa’s latent curiosity and intellect. Though very different people, key commonalities let them understand each other deeply. Their rapport and chemistry leap off the page.

What is unique about Jojo Moyes’ writing style?

Jojo Moyes has an engaging, fluid narrative voice with keen emotional intelligence. With warmth and wisdom, she focuses less on judgement and more on exploring different perspectives. The bittersweet tone and wry yet compassionate observations about the complexity of ethical dilemmas make the tough issues relatable.

Why was Me Before You so commercially successful?

Me Before You was a word-of-mouth phenomenon, resonating widely across demographics from romance and general fiction audiences despite dealing with loss and disability. Readers deeply connected to the memorable central couple and their all-too-human struggles in the face of a heartbreaking predicament. The storytelling gripped readers and left many in tears.

What are the major settings of Me Before You?

Much of Me Before You happens within the Traynor home where Will grew up and is now confined, which adds intimacy and tension. Key places like Lou’s family home, the local cafe, wedding receptions, and of course the indelible trips to Mauritius and the finale in Switzerland ground the life-changing relationship.

Who are the main secondary characters and what roles do they play?

Key secondary characters like Louisa’s family–mother Josie, father Bernard, sister Katrina, nephew Thomas–show her roots and lifestyle before Will. Nathan acts as caregiver and occasional conscience to Will. Camilla is Will’s often antagonistic ex who challenges Louisa. Each secondary character complicates goals, priorities, tensions and impacts surrounding Will’s condition.

How did the novel differ from the 2016 film version?

The movie makes key changes like making Louisa an ardent lover of fashion, adding trips to the horse track for Will early on, and changing the order of certain events. The novel’s bittersweet ending becomes more decisively tragic. But the core emotional journey remains intact in moving performances by Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin as Louisa and Will.

Why is Me Before You such a cultural phenomenon?

Me Before You resonated widely across many cultures by dealing with universal themes–the meaning of true love, living boldly without regrets, seizing life’s beauty amidst pain and loss. Its characters model hope and compassion in their responses to complex life questions that so many grapple with today regarding terminal illness, quality of life and death with dignity.

Is there a prequel or a sequel?

Yes, the novel’s engaging characters and premise spawned two sequels. After You picks up Louisa’s life after the jarring finale and before her path crosses Will’s sister Treena’s. Still Me completes the trilogy by bringing Louisa to New York City for fresh starts, new friendships, and her version of moving forward with life on her own terms after loving and losing Will.

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