Review: Me Before You

Me Before You
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Book #23 for 2016
PopSugar Challenge Categories:
– A NYT bestseller
– A book that’s becoming a movie this year
– A book from the library

I had also planned on using this for the Read Harder task of reading a book adapted into a movie, then watching the movie and discussing which was better. I have decided against that for several reasons. One is that the movie trailers show pretty much the entire plot (a pet peeve of mine) and also show me that the movie is extremely faithful to the text. Since I already know the story, and it’s not one I care to revisit, I expect I would find the film version boring at best. The other main reason is that I’d feel kind of squicky about supporting this film financially.

Others who are closer to or personally experience the struggles of the severely disabled, and how they are represented in popular media, have discussed this far more eloquently than I ever could, but it would be remiss of me not to point out that this story is extremely shallow when it comes to putting forth Will Traynor as a character. When I think of what Moyes could have done with this character to portray the realities of life as a quadriplegic, to show the will to survive and even thrive, I am thoroughly disappointed in the resulting puppet of a character she settled for. She purposefully glossed over all of the icky bits so she could have her Professor Henry Higgins to “improve” Louisa.

Because that’s what the story is actually about. Not Will’s desire for assisted suicide because he can’t be “himself” at a Paris cafe. Not even Will and Louisa falling in love. It’s about some man not being satisfied with Louisa as she is and being determined to rescue her, to make her better. The story even references Pygmalion several times, so Moyes obviously knew what she was up to. Instead of making a statement about class systems or education or women’s identities as individual people, though, she plays it straight and has Will rescue Louisa and her father.

I ended up giving this book two stars because the prose itself flowed well, and I liked how Moyes wrote the relationship between Louisa and her sister. That felt pretty real. It’s just when Moyes starts tossing in non-Louisa POVs at odd intervals and creating characters she obviously doesn’t understand just to shoehorn in some hot-button topic that the whole thing starts to fall apart. But no, I can’t really say as I would recommend this to anybody. There just isn’t enough of a real story here to recommend.

View all my reviews


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