I’m not really sure how to talk about this book without also delving into an enormous can of worms about disability and death with dignity laws and both of those things as they relate to blatant tear-jerker literature, but here we are anyway, so I guess here we go.
The Book: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Genre: Caretaker romance, I guess?
First impressions: Me Before You, despite the elementary-school-rhyme-sounding title, is about a vivacious but overly cautious girl, Louisa, who gets a job caretaking for a man with quadriplegia, Will, who finds himself unable to adjust to life in his chair and wants to go to Switzerland to legally commit suicide. They fall in love because of course they do, you can see that coming from about a million miles away, and Louisa spends like 90% of the book trying to convince Will that he doesn’t actually know what he wants because she doesn’t want him to die. Basically all of the other characters are on Louisa’s side, and Will’s character get disparaged pretty heavily, because I guess how dare he make decisions about his own livelihood?
There’s also this rape backstory for Louisa that’s really vague and basically functions as an excuse to make her emotionally reliant on Will, which was not addressed with nearly enough care, and also Louisa has this boyfriend who displays clear signs of emotional abuse via neglect, and that’s never really addressed either. I guess because they’re all too busy telling Will he’s not allowed to make decisions any more. I DISAGREE WITH THIS BOOK ON BASICALLY EVERY MORAL STANCE IT TAKES, OKAY???
Except that in the end Will does get his way and everyone else just has to accept it, so at least that worked out. Even though, given his fatalism, his encouragement of Louisa to go on and embrace her own life is dangerously close to inspiration porn. Basically there are a lot of thorny issues in this book and none of them were handled gracefully.
Will it adapt?: Yes, but unless a lot of the moralizing gets cut out, it’ll be just another insufferable film condemning people for making their own life choices for themselves. I’m interested to see how the story adapts to a visual medium, where you can’t ever forget Will’s quadriplegia. Would have been nice if they had cast an actually disabled actor in the role, though, instead of Finnick from the Hunger Games.
Should I read it?: …eh? I guess if you’re into inspiration porn? I certainly wouldn’t have, sans this project.
“You can only actually help someone who wants to be helped.” –Me Before You
This post is part of my I Read It First series.