Study Guide

Me Before You Love

By Jojo Moyes

Love

I could well imagine Will pushing her away. But surely if you loved someone it was your job to stick with him? (4.124)

Here, Lou is talking about Alicia, Will's ex-girlfriend, who left him soon after the accident. It's easy to judge her for this decision, but life can be complicated sometimes—and this is really complicated. Love doesn't always conquer all, as it turns out. And that's our emo moment for the day.

And then, out of nowhere, Will Traynor laughed. It exploded out of him in a gasp, as if it were entirely unexpected. (5.33)

Will is a total jerkface toward Lou at first, so this first guffaw is a big step forward for their relationship. We think we hear Cupid's wings a-buzzing. Oh, wait—that's just a mosquito. Carry on, folks. Our bad.

I was no longer in sole charge of a poorly quadriplegic. It was just me, sitting next to a particularly sarcastic bloke, having a chat. (6.174)

Lou quickly lets go of her preconceptions of quadriplegics and looks at Will as an individual—and a great one at that. They develop a classic back-and-forth banter that wouldn't be out of place in a sitcom or romantic comedy.

It was as if the fitter he got, the more obsessed by his own shape he became and the less interested he was in mine. (7.7)

Lou's relationship with her boyfriend Patrick...isn't great. He was a nice, normal bloke at first, but his obsession with personal fitness has taken over his entire life. Instead of paying attention to her, he merely pays attention to himself.

"Go, Patrick!" I yelled weakly. He didn't see me. (10.80-81)

This is a perfect metaphor for Lou and Patrick's relationship: he's always running toward his personal goals while she stands on the sidelines completely ignored. And she's supposed to be enthusiastic about this.

"I just...want to be a man who has been to a concert with a girl in a red dress. Just for a few minutes more." (12.150)

Spending time with Lou gives Will a sense of normalcy that he hasn't felt in a long time. He's probably gone to many concerts with many girls in red dresses (hopefully not more than one at the same time), but we're willing to bet that this is the most meaningful.

"If he has love, he will feel he can go on. Without it, I would have sunk many times over." (15.91)

Lou doesn't realize how powerful love is until she spends time on an online forum for people with spinal injuries and receives this response. Sadly for her, however, things aren't always so simple.

"Sometimes, Clark, you are pretty much the only thing that makes me want to get up in the morning." (18.204)

We're storing this away for our next opening salvo on Tinder. Jokes aside, Will probably hasn't felt this way about anyone in a long time. It has a profound effect on his sense of well-being.

I did the only thing I could think of. I leaned forward, and I placed my lips on his. [...] And just for a moment I forgot everything (23.126)

Lou and Will's first kiss is magical but fleeting. Will pulls back because it causes him too much pain to be physically intimate with the woman he loves—it just reminds him of all of the things that they won't be able to do together. This, ultimately, leads him to go through with his plans for assisted suicide.

I realized I was afraid of living without him. How is it you have the right to destroy my life, I wanted to demand of him, but I'm not allowed a say in yours?

But I had promised. (26.127)

Sitting by while Will dies is the hardest thing that Lou has ever done in her life, but it proves the extent of her love for him. Obviously she'd rather him choose to live. Obviously she'd rather that they spent the rest of their lives together. But she knows Will well enough to know that he won't waver in his decision, and she chooses to support him as best she can through this difficult time.