Me Before You
By Jojo Moyes
Grade Levels: 9-12 and Adults
You may already be familiar with the 2016 film starring Emlia Clark of Game of Thrones fame. This book, published four years prior in 2012, was the inspiration for that movie. And let me assure you, the book holds up substantially better than the film’s 55% on Rotten Tomatoes. Me Before You was Moyes’s breakout book, and for good reason. The novel masquerades as a light romantic comedy. It is centered around Louisa Clark, an ordinary girl who takes a badly-needed job working for ex–professional Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will is acerbic, moody, and bossy but Louisa refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected.
Where this book really shines is with the complexity of its characters. Although reduced to bland facades in the paragraph above, they really come to life through their interactions and the background that Moyes writes for them, which informs and contextualizes their actions throughout the narrative. The themes here are mature. The book explores the mental strains of living with a disability and the lasting effects that sexual assault have on a person. However, the book approaches these subjects through the respectful lens of characters that the reader has grown to love through the course of the narrative. In short, this book is a story about the relationship between two people that’s more than your run-of-the-mill romance novel. If you’re looking for a romance that will really draw you in and present full, realistic characters with struggles to overcome and wounds to heal, this is the book for you this summer.