Now, before you discount this book entirely, let me get in there: this is a good read.
I say this because it’s very possible that all you know about it is a glimpse of the abysmal looking trailer to the recent film version, which does a fab job of making this fresh and thought-provoking piece of ChickLit look like the sort of ghastly tear-jerky-romance that leaves no stone unturned in manipulating your emotions. (And I say this as someone with a real crush for the lead actor Sam Claflin, so it pains me to say it. I blame the trailer editor.)
My one-line review would read: “The best alternative to a Marian Keyes book I’ve yet found.” Marian Keyes is the class act of the world of chicklit: a warm, gossipy, hilarious narrative voice that’s able to cover life’s darkest subjects without once making the book itself dark or inaccessible. But she doesn’t write them very often. So I was pleased to discover Jojo Moyes who (while not quite achieving Keyes’ level) pulls the same trick of meshing warm humour with darker subject matter to achieve a lovely but satisfying read that’s not just froth.
Me Before You tells the tale of Lou, a twenty-something not making much of her life, who finds herself working as a carer for a quadriplegic young man who has lost the will to live (you put it like that and it sounds pretty grim, no?) But this personable, readable tale really draws you in and takes you on an ethical journey. Yes, it sometimes spills over into heavy-handedness, with evolving attitudes to disability and beyond coming in set-piece lurches rather than truly subtle development. But to do this at all in a book that’s genuinely funny in places and gets a real authenticity to its characters is praiseworthy. And Moyes is a master of leaving certain things unsaid which a weaker writer would baldly slap down – and she creates a much more delicate novel as a result.
Yes, there’s some cheesiness and no, it doesn’t break new ground in its point of view on disability, but you sort of know that from the cover, and it would be churlish to look for it. Having read this I immediately read 2 more Moyes novels – at night, while feeding/shushing a baby. And I think that tells you all you need to know.