Reading guide for Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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Me Before You

A Novel

by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
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  • First Published:
    Dec 2012, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2013, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

An Introduction to Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes

"The thing about being catapulted into a whole new life—or at least, shoved up so hard against someone else's life that you might as wellhave your face pressed against their window—is that it forces you to rethink your idea of who you are" (p. 58).

Louisa Clark never wanted to leave her job at the Buttered Bun. After six years, she felt secure in the routine of making tea and chatting with the café's regulars. But when her boss closes the business, the unskilled twenty-six-year-old must take a new job as a paid companion to a wealthy ex–Master of the Universe, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Prickly and embittered, Will Traynor nonetheless opens Louisa's eyes to the limitations she has imposed upon her life—and the infinite possibilities that only love can awaken.

A few short years earlier, Will was a major corporate player who bought and sold companies for obscene profits. He climbed mountains and dated cover girls. All that changed after a speeding motorcycle crushed his spine. Paralyzed from the neck down and even unable to feed himself, Will's life as he knows it is over—and he is not interested in exploring a new one.

Louisa feels intimidated by Will, his commanding mother, Camilla, and the Traynors' grand home, but the position pays a lot more than her waitressing job did and her family doesn't hesitate to remind Lou that she has few options otherwise.

At first, Will resents Louisa's very presence. When he destroys a shelf full of pictures, Louisa tries to repair the damage. Furious, he lashes out, "It would be nice—just for once—if someone paid attention to what I wanted. Me smashing those photographs was not an accident" (p. 56). Yet, the blowout is a turning point. Louisa stops trying to second guess Will's decisions, but also refuses to bear the brunt of his frustration.

Louisa is accustomed to putting herself last. Her parents never hid the fact that they considered Louisa's younger sister, Treena, to be the more intelligent sibling. Patrick—Louisa's boyfriend of six years—is a self-absorbed personal trainer concerned only with his performance in the next triathlon. As she and Will grow closer, he convinces her that she deserves more respect from everyone in her life, including herself. Still, Lou has her reasons for wanting things to stay the same as they have always been.

When Lou learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living. She begins researching technologies that can give him more autonomy and looking for outings that he might find appealing. Each for the other's sake, Louisa and Will push beyond their comfort zones and, in turn, change each other in ways that neither could ever have anticipated.
As inspiring as it is heartbreaking, Me Before You is Jojo Moyes's international bestselling breakout novel—and the captivating tale of two people whose improbable romance sets them both free.

Jojo Moyes is the author of several books, including The Last Letter from Your Lover. She lives with her husband and children in Essex, England.


Suggested Questions for Discussion:

  1. If you were Louisa, would you have quit working for the Traynors? If yes, at what point?
  2. Were you able to relate to the way Will felt after his accident? What about his outlook on life did you find most difficult to understand or accept?
  3. Discuss the meaning of the novel's title. To whom do the "me" and "you" refer?
  4. Louisa often finds Mrs. Traynor cold and judgmental. Is there an appropriate way to behave in Mrs. Traynor's situation?
  5. What is your opinion of Mr. Traynor? Did it change after you read his side of the story?
  6. Why is Louisa able to reach Will when so many others could not?
  7. Were you as surprised as Lou to learn of Will's plans?
  8. Compare Louisa's relationship with Treena to Will's relationship with Georgina. Do siblings know one another any better simply because they are related?
  9. Would Patrick have asked Louisa to move in with him if he hadn't felt threatened by Will? If Louisa had never accepted her job with the Traynors, where would her relationship with Patrick have gone?
  10. Discuss Louisa's own secret ties to the castle. Would most girls in her situation have blamed themselves? Should Treena have behaved differently in the aftermath?
  11. What did you make of the way Lou's mother, Josie, judges Lou's decisions regarding Will. Is Josie's reaction fair?
  12. Before his accident, Will was a philanderer and a corporate raider who would probably never have given Louisa a second look. Why is it that people are so often unable to see what's truly important until they've experienced loss?

Full reading guide including recipe and playlist suggestions at penguingroup.com

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Penguin Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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