Study Guide

Me Before You

By Jojo Moyes

Me Before You Introduction

We were pretty ticked when we found out that Me Before You was already a book title, because we were planning on using it for our upcoming self-help book about the value of narcissism. What an underrated personality trait, right?

Okay, maybe it's a good thing that Jojo Moyes stole our thunder on that one.

Yeah, what Moyes writes, unlike our unwritten self-help book, is legit. After a decade as an international journalist, Moyes published her first novel, Sheltering Rain, in 2002, and released another seven novels over the next eight years. Productivity for the win. It wasn't until the publication of Me Before You in 2012, however, that Moyes took her rightful role as a praiseworthy purveyor of popular fiction. Now you can't miss her.

Also, folks, did we mention the fact that the film adaptation of Me Before You even stars Daenerys from Game of Thrones? That's when you know you're legit.

We'd attribute all this success to the fact that Me Before You is both the quintessential romance novel and the perfect subversion of that genre. On the one hand, it has all of the requisite elements: a quirky heroine, a wealthy suitor, and a relationship that begins with enmity and ends with kisses. On the other hand, it complicates the situation by having that wealthy suitor, Will Traynor, be struggling with his feelings about his quadriplegia. It's what a romance novel would be like if real life got in the way. And we mean really got in the way.

As a result, Me Before You touches on heavy issues normally ignored by novels with Fabio on their covers. It touches on the inner turmoil felt by those with immense medical challenges. It touches on issues like quadriplegia and depression. It touches on the psychological impact of sexual assault. It even touches on the hot button topic of assisted suicide. Not your typical rom-com fare, huh?

That being said, you'll still get some major romantic feels while reading Me Before You. You just might be surprised that you walk away with your noggin as inflamed as your heart.

What is Me Before You About and Why Should I Care?

Before you scoff at Me Before You as a run-of-the-mill romance novel, we recommend that you check yourself before you wreck yourself. There's a lot more going on here than you might think.

That's because the novel deals with issues of class and how they can drive a wedge between otherwise compatible people. It deals with the way that physical ailments and diseases can completely upend our sense of self. And it deals with the very controversial topic of assisted suicide while paying respect to both sides of this contentious debate.

More than anything, though, Me Before You examines our relationship with our hopes and dreams. Will, for example, is struggling now that his future has seemingly been stolen away from him in a flash. Lou, on the other hand, is struggling because she's never fought for her dreams, out of a combination of fear and insecurity. We've certainly felt both of these emotions at different points in our lives—and if you haven't, you're probably not human.

Maybe reptilian?

Still, we think that even our reptilian brothers and sisters would agree that the future can be scary at times. What Me Before You teaches us is that although it's impossible to delete these fears entirely, we can keep them from controlling our lives.

Me Before You Resources

Websites

Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
Started in honor of paralyzed actor Christopher Reeves, this foundation provides support to those dealing with paralysis.

Jojo Moyes's Homepage
Jojoholics unite.

Movie or TV Productions

Me Before You (2016)
Although the adaptation of Me Before You stars Daenerys from Game of Thrones, there are no dragons in the film. Or are there?

Me Before You Trailer
Our hearts are melting so much that we need to change our shirts.

Articles and Interviews

Goodreads Interviews Jojo Moyes
This chat touches on a range of Moyes' novels (gal has a ton), but it's still a must-read for any Me Before You diehard.

Jojo Moyes Wants to Be the Puccini of Fiction
In case you don't know Puccini, Moyes is basically saying that she wants to convey a wide range of heavy emotions with her work. You nailed it, lady.

Video

Twelve Minutes With Jojo Moyes
Twelve minutes are not enough. Spoiler warning: this talk discusses After You, Me Before You's sequel.

Jojo Moyes Talks With Sophie Kinsella
A chat with Britain's two leading romance novelists? Count us in.

Audio

Jojo Moyes on After You
Although this interview focuses on the sequel to Me Before You (spoiler alert), it still provides some fascinating insight into Moyes' process.

Taking Me Before You From Page to Screen
In this chat, Moyes discusses how she adapted the novel for the silver screen.

Images

Mauritius
This is the lovely island of Mauritius. Yeah—insane.

A Castle
Based on exhaustive research, this just might be what Stortford Castle looks like.