x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Me Before You: Reach for what's beyond tragedy

Jojo Moyes's ninth novel charts a relationship between a neurotic young carer and her quadriplegic charge who is planning to commit suicide.

With its sappy title, one could be forgiven for dismissing Jojo Moyes's ninth novel as another example of run-of-the-mill chick-lit, where events usually take a turn for the predictable shortly after chapter one. On the other hand, the praise heaped on Moyes's previous work promises a more substantial experience than appearances may imply.

Like the book itself, Lou Clark is a heroine who is easily dismissed: neurotic and affecting a blindingly colourful wardrobe, she has just lost her job at the local teashop. Her only other employment opportunity arrives in the form of working as a short-term carer for quadriplegic Will Traynor. It soon transpires that Lou has to use her time wisely, in order to convince Will against carrying out his decision of opting for assisted suicide to escape his joyless life.

Given the subject matter, Me Before You could have easily taken the melodramatic route. That it does exactly the opposite is a blessing in disguise. Rather than be depressing, Moyes charts a relationship that inspires both protagonists to reach for that elusive contentment beyond whatever tragedy befalls them.