Me Before You
I recently read Jo Jo Moyes’ book, Me Before You, a contemporary novel from the pov of a 27-year-old, working class British woman who takes a job assisting a wealthy 35-year-old British man, paralyzed in an accident. Louisa has lived an ordinary, rather safe life, with a boyfriend of seven years, a room still in her parents’ home, never going farther a-field than her small town. Will, however, has been a young master of the universe type, making international deals and mucho money, participating in extreme and risky sports, dating rare beauties, traveling to many continents. In a wheelchair now with only the use of a couple of fingers, he is angry, moody, sarcastic, and difficult. Louisa is completely taken a-back by him at first, but soon decides not to be cowed by him. The result: a love story that is fresh and funny and heartbreaking and satisfying. Treating disability with humor and realism, the book shows the necessity for all, even the most debilitated, to experience bodily pleasure. It is definitely a story for our time. In discussing this novel with a friend, also disabled, I now have one quibble—that the book was mostly from Louisa’s pov, with approximately four chapters given to others. The prologue comes from Will, but I would have liked more chapters from his perspective. Still, the moral questions raised make us firm up our own positions, and whether or not readers subscribe to the stance that Will takes, the issue of control over one’s own body is a timely, important topic for consideration.