Amy Reads Books

Me Before You

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes I was really pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Moyes' The Last Letter from Your Lover last year, and so was pretty eager to read her latest novel when it came out this year. Me Before You is certainly different in many ways from the former novel; set entirely in the present it's a story of rural, recession-hit England; the story of people who have to be carers to elderly parents, who are made redundant, who are single mothers and who lack the qualifications to get a 'proper' job. It was really nice to have 'normal' people be the centre of a novel for a change, and the Clark family certainly fit that mould. The Traynors are pretty much the polar opposite; but to have a lot of the characters not situated in high wealth was quite nice.The novel deals with some other rather touchy subjects. In addition to the fall-out from the economic crisis; which shuts down small businesses and renders Lou unemployed, a large portion of the novel focuses on what life is like for quadriplegics, those that care for them and (light spoiler alert) the hotly debated topic of assisted suicide. These are all well tackled by Moyes, who managed to really well portray the mindset of someone who was so used to be able to do anything suddenly having their lives limited massively. She also presents both sides of the argument when it comes the debated issue, although ultimately it is fairly clear where the novel's beliefs lie.Character-wise, Lou-whose perspective the vast majority the novel is told-is certainly a vibrant character. She's funny, believable, and as a reader you do genuinely come to care about her. Will doesn't make the best first impression on the reader, I know I was torn between wanting Lou to hit him and feeling kind of bad that he was stuck in a wheelchair, but he certainly develops through the novel into being a generally well-rounded character. I will say that the problems I had with their relationship was the fact that they didn't really (as the blurb suggests) 'change each other for all time'; Will certainly had a big influence of Lou, but he stayed pretty much the same, just getting gradually less grouchy. Plus, I felt that a reveal surrounding Lou's past was more than a little unnecessary; it was a pretty horrific event which was just casually dropped in as an irrelevant excuse for Lou's cautious behaviour, and also to build her relationship between Will.I also really liked the presence of Lou's family; her parents were really interesting characters, as was her younger sister-the 'smart one' who had gotten pregnant and had to drop out of university. Patrick, Lou's boyfriend, begins the novel as a kind of gym-obsessed machine, who doesn't really seem to have time for Lou, but you do learn more about him as the novel carries through. I would also say that a problem I had with the novel was the random cutting into someone else's view; be it Treena, Lou's sister or Nathan, Will's carer. It seemed a little unnecessary to me, and served really just to give the reader a tiny bit more information that Lou knew.Overall however, I really enjoyed Me Before You, it's romantic fiction with slightly more teeth, and I'm looking forward to Moyes' next work.