Does the love story in “Me Before You” overshadow the book’s main message?

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes is the love story of the year. We’ve all heard of the tale, woman falls in the love with the man in the wheelchair whilst teaching him that there are many ways to fall in love with life. We’ve all watched Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke bring the beautiful love affair to life in the film trailer, with the film to be released this June. It’s a heartbreakingly adorable and ultimately hopeful novel, filled with awe-inspiring moments that take our breath away. Moyes gives us the romance of a lifetime through the hardships of an accident.

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

Me Before You

I’m a total hopeless romantic, and I completely fell in the love with this book. I loved everything about it – the character development, the plot, the situation. Everything about this story appealed to me. I was recommended to read it a while ago, and have only just got round to doing so. I can honestly say that I’m so glad I did, and would recommend everyone else to read it, too.

When reading it, I thought the whole point of the story was about learning to see the good in life. To remember that when life gives us hardships there are always reasons to go on. But I found this to be less true the further I progressed through it. I realised the book was more about our lives being well spent, and what constitutes for a well-spent life.

However, I feel that with the tension between Lou and Will and their fate, the message in Me Before You became kind of lost. As much as I appreciate the emotional ride that Moyes took us on, I feel that when I closed the cover I felt a range of feelings about the ending as opposed to reflecting on the themes that Moyes weaved through the love story.

Instead of being taken with what the book was really about, I think it became about the love story between Will and Lou. Me Before You is all about living your life; really living your life to the fullest that it can be lived. It encourages us to get out there, to push ourselves, set ourselves outside of our comfort zones and really see the world in which we live in.

But I think that most people can sympathise with Lou. Will is rich; filthy rich. He is a privileged guy which allows him to live his vibrant and vivid lifestyle – being able to afford to do all the things he wishes to do in oder to have the life that he considers is well-spent.

With Will constantly advising Lou to travel the world, leave her hometown and try new things, I think that another important aspect that can gives us a well-spent life became a bit buried. Yes, these things can make our lives excited and “lived”, but at the same time there are other ways to make life meaningful that I feel Moyes doesn’t shine enough light on.

Meeting people, making friends, being with your family and loved ones, can all make our lives worthy of living. Life isn’t all about the big moments and seeing the big cities: life can be just as profound and worthy doing the smaller and more meaningful activities.

What I wanted was for Lou to acknowledge herself that even though Will felt his life was fulfilling through his big adventures, sightseeing and business, the lives of other people can be considered as more than fulfilling because of the amount of love, family and support present in their lives.

Other writers have tackled this very message. In his novel The Fault in Our StarsJohn Green teaches us that everyone wants to leave “their mark” on the world by achieving greatness, but often the most profound way that we achieve that is by making our mark on the those we love and hold closest to us. (For my previous post on The Fault in Our Stars, click here).

Although Moyes has given us a book that conveys this message, I never really felt it. I felt as though the fact that this message wasn’t as palpable on the page as the feelings and thoughts of the characters were was slightly disappointing.

Despite all of that, I completely loved the book and would be lying if I said otherwise. It is a beautiful story with strong and admirable characters. It really is the love story of the year.

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