Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Assisted suicide is a controversial topic. Everyone has varying opinions on it, but why should others get to decide whether it is the choice or not for someone else? This issue is explored but not in the level of depth that I expected based on the mass amounts of rave reviews.

Louisa who has no experience as a caretaker was hired to be a caretaker for a quadriplegic man, Will. They are the main characters. The side characters play such small roles that they have no personality whatsoever. Most of them could have been taken out of the story altogether, and it would have made no impact on the story all.

Character development was poorly done not just with the side characters but with the main ones as well. Will’s struggle since his accident could have been more thoroughly explored. There really wasn’t anything special about Louisa except for her funky way of dressing, but that doesn’t really make anyone special, does it?

It may be personal life experiences that make me view this novel differently than most people. I had a very close family member that was disabled and severely depressed. After experiencing that, it made Louisa’s reactions to Will’s situation seem dumb, selfish, and immature. Louisa seemed dumb mainly because she thought a vacation and going out more would cure depression. As if! Obviously she hadn’t dealt with anyone who was depressed before. Something so simple cannot cure a serious mental illness. Would people really bother with anti-depressants if all they needed was a nice evening out at a the movies or at a concert? No, they wouldn’t because they would be cured before medication would be necessary. It was Louisa’s inability to truly empathize with anyone else in her life (particularly Will) that made her seem selfish and immature. She was like a child (although she was actually 27) who couldn’t put others before herself.


What was up with the medical treatment or are things in Europe done very differently than in the USA? Paracetamol is Tylenol; a different name is used for it in Europe. It’s the weakest pain killer someone can get, but a situation like Will’s warrants something stronger than freaking Tylenol. The man was in constant pain. No wonder why he wanted to die. My family member was prescribed much stronger pain meds. They never took away all of the pain, but it helped. It didn’t cause this person to be high either. It was mentioned several times that Will had burning sensations, which is a common symptom of neuropathy. Did the author of this not know that they have medications to treat that? Treatments for this was never mentioned. Granted the medications are not always highly effective but can provide some relief. I haven’t researched the use of them for someone in Will’s condition, but if they are effective for phantom limb pain (i.e. pain in a limb that has been amputated) or other types of neuropathy, it’s hard to imagine it wouldn’t have worked on Will at least a little bit. I found it curious that it wasn’t mentioned that Will was on an anti-depressant. It seems like the logical first step in trying to treat a clinically depressed person with suicidal ideation. This isn’t a medical issue really, but why hadn’t Will’s uber rich family gotten him voice activated software for the computer like, oh IDK, two fucking years earlier! How is it possible they did not know it existed?

Smack dab in the middle of the book for no apparent reason rape gets thrown into the story. This really bothered me because it didn’t add any depth to the characters nor any valid point to the storyline. The book would have played out the same with if it had been left out.

Most of the book was from Louisa’s POV. A few random chapters were from other characters. It was incredibly jarring. Especially when it came to Steven’s chapter. When I saw his name all I could think was who the hell is he. It took me a minute to realize that was Will’s dad who was virtually nonexistent in the book. I’m not even sure if his first name had been used in the book before then. None of these chapters added anything to the story. The way those characters felt had already been known from Louisa’s POV. 

Last but not least, Louisa was saved from her miserable existence in the end, which should be a good thing. She didn’t work her ass off or even decide that she needed to change her life. What really saved her was a man. Just another story where the lowly poor uneducated woman needed a good looking rich man to change her outlook on the world and her position in it.

2 stars

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