Me Before You by JoJo Moyes // My incredibly unpopular opinion

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes //  My incredibly unpopular opinionMe Before You (Me Before You, #1) by Jojo Moyes
Published by Pamela Dorman Books/Viking on December 31st 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Disability
Pages: 369
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Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.
Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

PLOT

I was so disappointed in this one. I was spoiled for the ending prior to reading it but I wasn’t aware of what the entire plot was about. Frankly, I’m not happy with the message it sends.

Will is a quadriplegic. He is incredibly wealthy and before his accident lived a very adventurous life. After his accident, he was a different person. While I can’t exactly relate to him, I can empathize with how hard it can be to go from no chronic pain or disability to not being able to perform basic tasks without aid. However, the message this book seems to send is that you cannot live a fulfilling life with a disability.

And how false that is. We always talk about wanting positive representation which makes me so surprised that this one is so well liked. It’s such a negative representation of disability and chronic pain.

PLOT (1)

This is about to me a kind of unnecessary rant: I couldn’t stand Louisa. She was extremely infuriating and naïve. From the beginning, I knew she was going to bother me throughout the entire novel. The story opens with her needing a job because she is the sole breadwinner for her family and just lost her job at the diner. Any rational person would realize the financial burden it would be to not have a job, taking whatever job they could get. Louisa refused everything, basically stating she was too good for all the opportunities because she was a waitress at a diner or several years.

Yep, she was going to bother me. The next time I got incredibly frustrated with her was after she got the job as Will’s caregiver. Again, any rational person living in the 21st century would think it logical to look into the needs of someone who is quadriplegic before needing to help them. Alright, maybe I’m being picky, but it just seemed like common sense to have some knowledge of the job you’re about to undertake before starting (especially for someone who was so on their high horse with every other job opportunity).

Will wasn’t much better but it’s because he never got developed outside of his disability. It’s all he was. There was a lot of mention of what he used to be like and what he used to do, which then gives the message that disability or any chronic pain/illness will turn you into an entirely different person. (I realize that becoming quadraplegic can change someone, but I would think that they would maintain most of who they were before the accident.)

I covered most of my thoughts on this in the Plot section, but I have a few more things to add. As stated before, I think it’s important for positive representation. While this book does cover a realistic topic, I wish it would have shown Will finding happiness somewhere in his life. I don’t mean that to be taken as this book was “just too depressing” but that it portrays that life is not worth it if you are disabled.

Also, it follows a person who is insanely wealthy. People all around the word battle something similar and don’t have the same financial stability and access to opportunities as Will did. Another reason I think this book is such a negative representation – showing someone who has better choices and still portrays that your quality of life isn’t as good.

Lastly, if you want to read about a positive representation of someone with this type of disability (maybe not quadriplegia but similar symptoms) then I recommend The Fundamentals of Caring about a boy with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and his caregiver (super positive message), or you know, read about Stephen Hawking who has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

PLOT (3)

I didn’t even review every category in this because I felt like the three I did talk about really covered enough reasons why I was so disappointed. However, just a quick few to add if you were wondering: I didn’t enjoy the writing because I didn’t feel the emotion (oddly enough) and the romance was terrible because Louisa has one of the most selfish boyfriend and I wasn’t thrilled with the relationship dynamics between her and Will.

Overall, I didn’t like this story. It had characters that were one-dimensional, and frustrating. The representation wasn’t something I would recommend to people with chronic pain/disabilities, which means I wouldn’t recommend this to really anyone.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
World Building
Representation
Overall: 1 / 5

  • I haven’t read this book yet, just because I saw the hype but it just felt it wasn’t my type of book. I think the representation and characters would bother me for reasons you explained above. If I did read this, then I think I would be slightly picky too,especially because Moyes chooses to cover a sensetive topic, but then does not represent it well. I don’t think I’ll be reading this one, because of it’s low rating here. Lots of people have loved it though, so maybe one day ”l find the time to try it and who knows? Maybe it will be my cup of tea…?

    • Who knows! It could be. As long as people recognize that it’s not the BEST representation ever, or at all, anyone can enjoy it! For me, even if the representation was good, the main character drove me crazy hahaha

  • I didn’t like this book as much as everybody else either. It was just too “boring” for me, which is a really bad choice of a word, but I don’t mean to use it for the plot, but for the writing style and pace and everything.

    I must say, though, although I think it does send a rather trist message and not really positive one, I think not every book must have a happy ending. Somehow it was clear to me from the beginning that Will would not survive the ending of the book, but I was okay with that. There are a lot of people in the world who cannot adjust to life after such a grave accident and I think this is a good story of someone who just couldn’t. It really is sad and bad and I would never give this book to someone in the same situation, but I think I can understand where the story came from.

    it really does send a negative message, I’m not arguing there, but I just feel like this is the example of one person’s life, and not everybody’s reaction to becoming disabled.

    I hope I didn’t bother you too much with my opinion :0 😀 I totally accept your point of view! You’re not wrong. But I didn’t dislike the book for all the same reasons as you did. 🙂

    Here’s My Review of Me Before You, but I’ve posted it a few months back 🙂

  • I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this one! I feel the same way, even though I don’t read the book or watch the movie, but I think this book focused more on the disability rather than the romance? Like Will’s life is not worth living because of his disability, and having Louisa sort of brighten it up a bit, but it’s still not worth it that he did what he did at the end. Even if it’s not about the disability, it feels like romanticizing it. I don’t feel like reading something so negative, so I decided not to read it. I hope your next read would be better Molly!

    • I didn’t really know beforehand the negative reviews on it. I went in expecting such a great romance (but I did know how it ended). So, it was disappointing! It just sends such a bad message to those WITH disabilities. I wish I skipped it like you did >.<

  • Oh, how disappointing! I haven’t read this one, but it’s on my TBR so I’ll definitely keep everything you wrote in mind. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and I hope your next read is a much more enjoyable one 🙂

    Brittany @ Brittany’s Book Rambles

    • It was disappointing 🙁 I really wanted to like this one! It’s not a terrible story, I just didn’t appreciate the message is sends. I’m not disabled in any way, but I can imagine it wouldn’t be a fun read for someone who is.

  • Sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy this! I have not read the book but I have seen the movie. Don’t think I’ll be reading it though because I’ve heard some fairly negative reviews about this! Nonetheless, great review!

    xx Anisha @ Sprinkled Pages

    • Yeah, I wouldn’t recommend this one >.<

  • i’m sorry you were so disappointed by this book! i’ve heard quite a few negative things about it, and won’t be reading it myself. i agree that it sends a really bad message about people with disabilities.

    • I didn’t even realize the negative things people said about this book until AFTER I read it. I kind of wish I knew before hand, I probably would have skipped it >.<

  • Oh definitely going to skip this one now. I hate to see negative representation, I just think that why are you including something diverse if you are going to trash it anyways? Great review! Plus I love your blog design 🙂

    • A side note that I realized after writing this review is that the representation is told through a DIFFERENT person’s POV, not the actual disabled person. That seems a bit wrong to me too. Hmm…

      Also, thank you! 😀

  • I was considering this book. I was thinking of borrowing it from the library because popular books generally intrigues me. But I might not read this anymore though because infuriating characters are a definitely no-go for me. Also, your complains might are my usual rants on books. So thank you for saving my time on this one!

    • Eep, I hope you aren’t missing out on a potential favorite >.< Personally, I just couldn't get behind the message this one sends. Other people make some good points to support it, though. It's a tough one.

      • nah, I don’t think this will be a favorite of mine, really. I was never the romance reader in the first place. I really just want to read books people love so much. So, no worries 🙂

  • I can see why you felt this way about this book – I’ve seen a lot of people who were frustrated by the representation as well. That being said, depression with quadriplegia is a huge thing. And quadriplegics ending their life is a real thing. I can’t even fathom what it would be like to go from being an independent adult to essentially being an infant. I can’t imagine how gutting it would be to feel as though you’ve lost all dignity (I’m not saying that a quadriplegic has lost their dignity, but I can imagine they sometimes feel that way – especially initially) . I really liked this book because I felt like it painted another side to disability – no, everyone is not happy with the lot their given, and that’s okay. They don’t have to be. The people who are able to find joy in cards they are dealt – especially those who are quadriplegic or who have a seriously debilitating disease – are strong, truly amazing people. But it’s unrealistic to assume everyone can be like them. So I guess my point is that I totally see where you’re coming from, and I can totally understand the frustration from your end. I guess I appreciated this more raw and uncensored tale of a quadriplegic. I appreciated the ending and that sometimes things just aren’t going to turn out like we want. Yes we wanted Will to be happy and learn to love the life he had, but he just couldn’t and that’s okay.

    • I totally understand that not everyone can handle certain things that happen in their lives and some people will find this to be an accurate portrayal. I linked a few posts to another commentor that may describe my feelings a bit more (they’re from thebookavid’s blog). Mainly it’s that the book paints Will to be only his illness, which I don’t agree with. And because of his suffering, another person (the actual MC) basically has a life epiphany. So it doesn’t have to have a happy ending for me, I just didn’t like the portrayal of Will as only a disabled person and nothing more. (At least that’s how he felt for me, others may have found something more in his character).

      And that Lou annoyed the crap out of me haha

      • Your point is entirely legit and I understand what you mean. We can at least all agree that it’s a great book in that it’s cause so much debate. I have read so many heated discussions about it, which is fun, ya know?!

        And HAhaha. Yes I agree Lou was a tad bit annoying.

        • That is VERY true. It’s important to have these discussions 🙂

          hahah OK, we can agree on that one then ;P

    • I haven’t read this book, so take my comment with a grain of salt, but, from everything that I’ve heard about it, this comment is exactly how I feel. Not everyone with disability is happy, not everyone with disability can do all the things able-bodied people do, and it sounds like this book is a realistic portrayal of that side of things. And I think it’s important to have books that also show that side.

      However, I can see what you’re saying, Molly, about him being portrayed as ONLY his disability. Because people are not just their disabilities. Could it be that the author didn’t see him that way but he just saw himself that way? (I have no idea who’s POV the book is in or anything like that.)

      • I’m not sure if you received my reply to Ali? Oops.

        The book is told from the girls POV (I believe there is ONE chapter in Will’s POV, but I could be wrong there). I totally get what both of you are saying, I just still question if an able-bodied person should be the one to send out that portrayal on top of the fact that I felt that Will was nothing more than his disability. I don’t know, like Ali said, at least this book has caused so much debate around this topic!

        • Don’t worry, I was just reading through the comments to see what everyone else had to say, and her comment said what I was thinking so I commented here instead of making my own. And yes, at least the book is getting people talking about disability in books!

  • Lydia Tewkesbury

    I LOVE this review. While the bookish community are usually so on it with representation, there has been (at least as far as I can see), relatively little discussion of the seriously problematic ideas in this book.

    To be totally honest, I haven’t read it, but I don’t plan to. It is full of ableist ideas and basically tells disabled people that they should go kill themselves, because their life will never be worth living. I don’t need to read that.

    • Honestly, I had to look up reviews to find out if I was the only one who felt the way I felt. All I saw were positive reviews of this. I can understand that there ARE people out there that feel like Will felt in this book, but I just couldn’t get so behind this one like others did. I think it can definitely be harmful to people that have a disability.