Nashville has everything these days! Everything! Except of course a beach. Noticeably missing. Monica McDougall and I just hate that. Monica enjoyed an idyllic childhood in the small coastal town of Fairhope, Alabama, and misses the water terribly. She spends time at the tennis courts instead. She’s “a beautiful player and a great competitor, and I’ve never once seen her irritated or unpleasant,” says one friend, quite a testament to her temperament given the aggravations of the game. Her good friend Bling says that Monica is also very good at answering difficult questions. When Bling brought her fourth child home from the hospital, the third one asked where babies come from. Bling didn’t feel capable of answering the question at that particular moment. “Call Mrs. McDougall!” she said, which the young child proceeded to do. And received the perfect answer: from God, of course! Every summer, Monica rereads her all-time favorite, To Kill A Mockingbird, and will always read a book by an Alabama author. Today, she reviews Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes.
From Monica: Often when I visit home, my mother and I swap “must reads.” Recently our family arrived at my parents’ for a three night stay, and she handed me a book I truly could not put down. I hope on my next trip we actually get to visit more. Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes, offers the seemingly stereotypical stale tale of two opposites transitioning from feelings of mutual annoyance into attraction. Louisa Clark is a 20-something comfortably living with her parents, satisfied with her waitressing job and indifferent about her boyfriend of several years. As Moyes puts the high beams on Lou’s humdrum existence, she does it so beautifully that the reader becomes as content as Lou herself. However, when Lou loses her job and her safe routine, a feared change occurs. Lou finds herself a sitter/space filler for the cantankerous and self-destructive Will Traynor. Two years previously, an automobile accident left the once virile and uber-successful Will paralyzed. After a long hospitalization, Will moved into the home of his affluent parents, who, while rich in the material things, are unable to muster an ounce of courage to help Will face his new reality. So begins the making of first impressions, the setting of expectations, the breakthroughs and the break ups. At first, Louisa and Will allow first impressions to dictate their interactions. Then they seem set on imposing each other’s will onto the other. And finally, hope swoops in.
Initially, I read with my eye on the relationship, but soon realized Me Before You is about two lives not being fully lived: one by choice, one by circumstance.
Flannery O’ Connor said of endings that they should be both surprising and inevitable. Beautifully woven, this novel ends in just this way.