I just graduated from law school, and I had a week off before studying for the bar. I wanted to fill that week with easy to read, fun, fantasy chick lit and my mom lent me her copy of Me Before You. She loved this book, her book club loved this book, and I enjoyed this book…up until the ending.
This book is the story of Louisa Clark, a young woman in her mid-twenties who just lost her job at the small cafe and bakery where she works. Lou is trapped in her small town life, she rarely leaves her hometown, she’s unwilling to explore her passions and she’s basically just…stuck, as many twenty-somethings are. The unemployment office finds her a job as a companion to a young quadriplegic man.
It’s hard to know how much of the plot to describe without veering into spoiler territory. Lou has a long term, exercise obsessed boyfriend. And her employer, the enigmatic Will, lived a life of adventure and action before an accident rendered him quadriplegic. There are two parallel stories here. One is Lou’s personal story, as she struggles to support her family during the recession and works through her personal traumas in her past in an attempt to find a life that is her own. And the other is Lou’s romantic story, as she struggles with her growing feelings towards her employer and her waning feelings towards her boyfriend.
What I liked best about this book is that it didn’t sacrifice Lou’s person struggles with her family and past to focus on her romantic life. Unlike a lot of chick lit, this book really was about Lou figuring out what to do with herself. Much of her maturing was the result of external circumstances – she was forced to grow a backbone to deal with sulky Will, and forced to assume much of the responsibility for her family when her dad lost her job. It felt real.
But what I disliked most about this book was the ending. Most people talk about how much they cried reading this book – I was just angry. I was already depressed about graduating, so I just wanted a happy ending. Not a cryfest. And I didn’t like that after Lou was so proactive in changing her life -growing a backbone to deal with Will, learning to support her family while having her own independent life, I didn’t like the way Will seemed to swoop in at the end and solve her lack of career ambition with money and grand gestures.
If you like chick lit, this is definitely a must read. It will probably go down in history as a classic. I will caution you against reading this book in public – there will be tears.