Description: Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane. Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.
Quickly rising to one of the most popular stories of the summer, “Me Before You” by Jojo Moyes is more than an unconventional love story, but also a coming-of-age narrative. Quirky Louisa Clark desperately needs a job to help support her family and becomes the caregiver for Will Traynor, a wealthy young banker who was paralyzed two years earlier in a road accident.
Despite not wanting to be cheered up, Will can’t help but succumb to Louisa unfailing smile and positive energy. Their relationship evolves during the six months of Louisa’s employment and she discovers that Will has lost the will to live, making it her mission to show him that although paralyzed, he can still have a good and happy life.
The novel tackles several sensitive topics, but none more so than dignitas – the right to live and die with dignity. While several other delicate storylines were understandably cut out from the movie, dignitas remained at the forefront.
It kind of goes without saying, but I am always partial to the book versions. There is so much more meat and depth the story when you have a few hundred pages and can hear a character’s thoughts. Most of the complexity in this book came from Louisa’s thoughts and feelings, which must’ve been a challenge to put into a movie script and demonstrate to viewers simply through dialogue and actions. The actors, Sam Claflin (Will Traynor) and Emilia Clarke (Louisa Clark) were superb choices and embodied their characters so well that imagined characters couldn’t have competed.
The movie did a great job of capturing the essence and emotion most important in the narrative, but reading the book is what really made the movie come alive for me because in the back of my mind I already knew all of the background and minor plot lines the director didn’t have time to include. “Me Before You” is a quick, easy read, but also one of the most poignant. Read the book or see the movie, but definitely carry tissues and prepare yourself to test how you really feel about profound issues like assisted suicide.