You get only one life. It's actually your duty to live it as fully as possible. ― Jojo Moyes, Me Before You

I have loved British literature ever since I learned how to read. I have always admired their sense of humor and their ability to make the reader live with the characters. Be it Charles Dickens or the infamous JK Rowling, they sure know how to make their audience happy with their riveting writing. Author Jojo Moyes is no different from her brethren. I read “Me Before You” in a total of 10 hours. Jojo Moyes explores the common themes of love, family issues, heartbreak, social classes and the slightly uncommon theme of euthanasia (the act of killing oneself deliberately in order to stop pain and tribulations). Although hundreds of books have been written about those themes, “Me Before you” is definitely a book to read because it is beautifully written and raises questions that some of us may never have asked ourselves. Set in Stortford a small village in eastern England, “Me Before You” tells a tale of a young woman called Louisa Clark who after getting fired from her job, starts working for a rich family as its son’s caretaker after he becomes quadriplegic because of a motorbike accident.

“Me Before You” was definitely interesting and entertaining. First of all the characters felt real to me. Two characters stood out to me the most. The first character was Louisa who was a quirky, honest woman and literally the sole breadwinner of the family. She had to sacrifice lots of things for her family to be happy. I think this is symbolic of many Sub Saharan African families, since the dependency ratio of Sub Saharan Africa was 86.8 according to the Trade Economics report of 2014. As an African who grew up in a family where the breadwinner was one and made numerous sacrifices to support a family of eight people, I understood Louisa perfectly well and could relate to the kind of life she was leading. The second character was Camilla Traynor who despite all the trouble in her marriage decided to stay with her husband for the sake of her son. I think that Camilla also symbolizes the sacrifices women make for the sake of their children be it unhappy marriages, and their careers. Since the characters faced real life issues that I have seen, “Me Before You” was definitely memorable.

I also loved the fact that Louisa Clark discovered that she couldn’t keep making sacrifices and forget to live her own life and follow her dreams. I agree with this opinion wholeheartedly, because endless sacrifices that don’t allow you to do something for yourself make you bitter in the future. For example, author Jody Picoult demonstrates this issue in her book called “My Sister’s Keeper” where the character Anna sues her family because they used her for donating blood to her elder sister. This was a sacrifice that never allowed Anna to do certain things as a child, because she had to be her sister’s donor. Consequently, she became very bitter. However, I disagree with the opinion that one’s happiness is the most important thing in the world. In “Me Before You” the character Will Traynor who is quadriplegic claims he has the right to commit suicide. As much as I understood the pain he was in, and how nobody could possibly relate to him, that was incredibly selfish of him. Although one should fight for her happiness, I believe one shouldn’t be blinded, become inconsiderate, and demand impossible things from those who love them. Not when those people have tried their possible best to make one happy. Psychologist Amy Cuddy emphasized this point in her TED talk that happiness can be faked and be reached if one tries hard enough and is with the right people.

As I summarize, “Me Before You” is a lovely book that should be read by all readers. The book is that good! As a hardcore Christian, I never thought about euthanasia. To me, it was just plain evil. However, Will Traynor’s pain made me think twice about my opinion. I wondered what it would be like to live a life where you weren’t able to make your own decisions, and if it would be worth living at all. It challenged my opinions, and that is what a good book does. It leaves you with different thoughts, and more empathy.

Portia Uwase
Portia Uwase Zuba’s academic interests are Economics, International Affairs, and French.