Some mistakes… Just have greater consequences than others. But you don’t have to let the result of one mistake be the thing that defines you.
After reading Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project, I realized I hadn’t read any books with a Manic Pixie Dream Boy. Sure, I had seen them in movies (I realized once I started working on the review) but I was convinced I had avoided them entirely. Thus I decided to read Me Before You, even after swearing I never would after seeing the movie.
Me Before You
by Jojo Moyes
Published: December 2012
Read: May 2019
Genre: Romance, “Chick lit”
Page Count: 369 pages
Rating: 3/5 Moose
Louisa Clark leads an average life in almost every way. But when she is let go from the cafe she works at, she goes through many dead-end jobs before ending up working as a nurse and companion for Will Traynor. Will was in a terrible accident that left him mostly handicapped, and after an attempt to take his own life, has agreed to give his parents six more months.
Louisa “Lou” Clark – a woman from the local town, who has never gone too far from her home, and is completely average in her family and love life.
Will Traynor – prior to his accident, a rich business man who loved extreme “living life.”
Rants, Raves, and Reviews
Man, can I tell you how angry I am at everyone I am friends with that has read this book? Because the lack of content warning for flipping rape is like….wtf? A quick look at the goodreads reviews show that none of them mention this. The suicidal tendencies? Everywhere! Remember how I said that there are some movies that make controversial things better? Well if the movie can remove the entire rape subplot and still produce a decent movie, IT ISN’T NEEDED.
(Now look, if you consider content warnings to be spoilers, I get that. However, Seanan McGuire put it perfectly recently: if you are spoiled for an entire book by a content warning, it isn’t a good book.)
Anyways. As for the rest of the book, it was fine. Moyes can write an engaging book, I’ll give her that. I do like Lou, and I do occasionally like Will, when he isn’t being such a prat. But overall, I still cannot get over my anger with this book.
Look, I am not going to sit here and pretend that I know what Will was going through. I had a bad accident ten years ago that nearly costed me my life, if not my leg. Even if it had, I still wouldn’t completely understand what Will went through.
And yet, given all the medical hardships I have faced and potentially faced, I cannot justify his suicide in my mind. I mean, I even an anxious, depressed person frequently, and yet it still angers me. I think in part because Will’s willingness to die isn’t presented as a struggle with depression, but rather as a refusal to accept what his life has become. It’s a thin line, sure, but it is incredibly different.
I mean, he is CONVINCED there is nothing worth living for. Louisa has to research and get him set up with voice to text technology — it has been two years since he had his accident! I can understand not wanting to go out in public to avoid stares because people do suck, but just, no attempts?
Then again, he is primarily meant to provide life guidance for Louisa. His purpose is to convince her that she is “destined for better things” and to provide her with the means to do that. As a MPDB does. I don’t know if she actually goes out and achieves these things, and I really don’t have any interest in the sequels. But Will is not a full character in and of himself — he has no real ambitions or goals (except death).
Knowing you still have possibilities is a luxury. Knowing I might have given them to you has alleviated something for me.
The rest of the side characters — Louisa’s family, Will’s family, her boyfriend, are all kind of terrible. A lot of this was corrected in the movie, which makes me happy. Louisa doesn’t seem to really have anyone in her corner – they all find her silly and kind of a lost cause. This resonated with me as it’s how I felt my family was…when I was a teenager. (Granted, I now just own up that I am frequently a flighty mess who perpetually has her shit together and needs to get her shit together.) Louisa doesn’t angst about it like a teenager, though she still feels stunted in her inability to stand up for herself.
Then again, you can’t benefit from a MPDB giving you your freedom if your life is surrounded by good, supportive people.
Look, I’ll be honest: I read this book quickly, and it isn’t the worst. My annoyance might be entirely misplaced in the end; I really did go into this book hoping to find peace. I did still tear up and feel for Louisa. I don’t know if I recommend the book — I do need to start owning up to the fact that I maybe like the movie? But it was a good look at a MPDB.
Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle.