Jojo Moyes won my heart with Me Before You, and then continued to woo me with her wonderful characters and her transportive writing. Her main characters are so relatable and realistically flawed, and her novels are so thoroughly researched and thought provoking. I also had the opportunity to meet Moyes, and adored her enthusiasm for the worlds and characters that she has created. She seems to genuinely care for her creations, and wants her fans to enjoy them as much as she does.
About the Series:
The Me Before You trilogy is set around a young woman named Louisa Clark, who has become a caretaker for a young quadriplegic man. Their relationship changes Louisa’s life, and we see the ripple-affect throughout the course of the series. A friend of mine convinced me to read Me Before You despite the heartbreak, and once I finished the first novel, I had to get my hands on the rest.
Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: quadriplegic, health issues, grief, assisted suicide, depression.
Published: December 2012, September 2015, January 2018
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
TL/DR: The Me Before You trilogy by Jojo Moyes is about a young woman who becomes a caretaker for a quadriplegic man, and the after affects of their relationship.
Read it? Absolutely.
Recommend it? Yes! These novels are such a great introduction to treating those with respect to their wishes, not our own. Also, they’re excellent discussion novels.
Buy it? BUY THEM ALL.
Watch the Movie? YES! First off, the couple is perfection. Second, the cast is perfection.
Book 1: Me Before You
Louisa Clark doesn’t have a charmed life. She’s twenty-six, living with her nagging parents, her sister, and her young nephew in a small apartment. She helps financially support her family along with her father, who is bound to lose his job due to cutbacks at the factory where he works. Louisa has been dating a man named Patrick for seven years, and working at diner for almost as many years. Things have just been routinely going along, and Louisa is content with her life as it is, but then the unexpected happens- the restaurant closes and she’s out of a job.
She knows she has to quickly get a new job to support her family, but after a couple of misfit jobs, the employment market is looking bleak. Then, an ad pops up for a caregiver position for a quadriplegic. Even with her concerns and reluctance, Louisa takes the job because they pay is much more than the minimum wage jobs she’s been trying out. As she goes in for her first day, she isn’t sure what to expect, but she definitely didn’t anticipate a young, handsome man named Will.
As she gets to know him over a series of rocky weeks, she learns her job isn’t just fetching tea and blankets. Camilla, Will’s mother, let’s Louisa in on the fact that Will has decided he doesn’t want to live this way anymore, and has struck a deal with his parents to give them six months to change his mind. Louisa undertakes this responsibility, desperately trying to show Will that there are many wonderful things to live for.
Moyes has created a beautiful, witty, gritty, and honest novel that not only tells a heartbreaking love story, but also relays the difficulties faced by the disabled community and the struggle for understanding and respect between able-bodied and disable-bodied people. As an able bodied person, I kept finding myself understanding where Louisa’s mindset was, only to be completely abashed and corrected by Moyes through Will and her writing. The biggest impact on me was that of Will’s desperation to make his own choices, and his own actions. He wanted his life back in his own hands. I don’t want to give too much away, but there was a point where I understood that his decision wasn’t one of pride- it was one of understanding and love for those who changed their lives to support his.
Book 2: After You
Louisa is having a hard time dealing with the grief accompanying the loss of Will. She’s tried to live the life he wanted her to have- traveling, experiencing new things, going outside her comfort zone… but none of it seems to satisfy the ache in her heart. She returns to her flat in London, depressed and unsure how to cope. Then, she accidentally falls off the roof of her five story apartment complex, and somehow survives. Forced to return home, which proves uncomfortable, Louisa works on physically healing while trying to suss out how she can mentally and emotionally heal. On return to London, she decides to start attending grief counseling, but then she is sought out by a teenager named Lily, who is desperate to learn about her biological father.
Louisa isn’t sure how to proceed with this news, but she tries her best to help Lily, and goes as far as introducing Lily to her biological grandparents. But, Lily is a wild child and quite the handful for Louisa, and things don’t go as smoothly as she planned. She consults her family and her grief counseling circle, but finds the best advice coming from Ambulance Sam. They informally met after Louisa’s near-death fall, and then again when Jake, a teen Louisa befriends from the counsel circle, introduced them. Yet between Lily’s chaotic moods, her micromanaging boss/ terrible work attire, and her lack of life direction, Louisa is overwhelmed. So, she keeps Sam at a distance and bumbles along, trying to figure out how to arrive at a state of equilibrium and happiness.
Moyes’ sequel seems completely fitting to where the story left off in Me Before You. I adore Louisa, being a perfectly flawed protagonist, and relate to her in many ways. The way she handles the loss of Will absolutely breaks my heart, but every time she picks up a broken piece of herself, the reader can’t help but cheer. Moyes writes so conversationally that sometimes I feel as if Louisa’s thoughts were my own, and yet she manages to provide plot twists so emotionally charged and unexpected that it left me agape.
Book 3: Still Me
In the third book, the reader follows Louisa over the pond to New York City. She’ll be assistant to the new Mrs. Gopnik, Agnes, a Polish immigrant who married a wealthy mogul with a fifth avenue home and vicious ex-wife. Louisa is to be a sort of companion and shield against the glares, stares, and gossip pointed at Agnes, but it proves to be a difficult task. Appearances must be kept up, which means Agnes is pushed to attend charity events, balls, and luncheons with the cronies of the ex-wife, and there are many family obligations that include Tabitha, the step-daughter who is only three years younger than Agnes and ferociously loyal to her mother.
Louisa takes the retribution in stride, and tries to befriend Agnes while still maintaining her professionalism, knowing it is a fine line. She knows this is an opportunity of a lifetime, and she’s enjoying her time in the Big Apple. She’s made a few friends and learned a few local tricks, and has genuinely tried to make New York feel like home, but she still gets bouts of homesickness.
She’s only been in New York for three months when things start hitting bottom for Louisa, but just as she’s done before, she finds a way to turn her luck around and pick herself up. Digging deep, she determines she has to figure out what she wants for herself and her life.
In Still Me, Moyes yet again takes her readers on the emotional roller coaster that is Louisa Clark’s life. I still found myself cheering her on, especially when a few moments reflected episodes in my own life. Louisa’s thoughts, reactions, and observations are just so honest and outright, and I’ve truly enjoyed her narration because it’s so relatable. I also love the way Moyes slowly reveals everything, throwing little plot twists here are there. Many times I was caught off guard, thinking that I had predicted an outcome only to be proven incorrect. And I have to say, I didn’t actually cry during this one, which is a nice change of pace!
Naturally, I highly recommend you give the Me Before You trilogy a read, and I hope you enjoy them all as much as I have!