Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 484
Jojo Moyes's Me Before You (2012) is a romance novel. It centers around two families, and specifically two individuals within those families, and the relationship they build throughout the narrative.
Louisa Clark is a 26-year-old woman who works at day jobs to support her family. She's not very highly educated or well-traveled; she doesn't have much in the way of professional expertise, either, so when she's laid off from her job in the beginning of the book, she goes in search of new employment. That's how she connects with the Traynor family.
Camilla, matriarch of the well-to-do Traynor family, is in search of someone to assist her son, Will, in day-to-day activities. Will, 35 years old, was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident a few years before and is quadriplegic. Previously successful and charismatic, he's grown depressed in his wheelchair. His initial meetings with Louisa don't go very well: he's grouchy and resentful of the idea of anyone taking care of him.
As Louisa grows slightly closer to Will, she learns of the hardship he's been through. He's already tried to take his own life, and his mother, Camilla, knows about it. He also expressed to Camilla his wishes to end his own life through a suicide assistance organization. Shocked and scared by the prospect, she tells Will she will honor his request if he will only agree to live for six more months. In that time period, Camilla hopes to prove to her son that suicide is a terrible option.
Aware of the complicated situation, Louisa resolves to help Will have more fun: they go outside more, enjoy activities together, etc. Will, in turn, has an influence on Louisa. He's much more worldly than she is. He tells her of his favorite place on the planet: a café in Paris.
When Louisa's father loses his job, the Traynor family helps him out by offering him a job. Louisa knows that Will is behind it: he wants to free her from the responsibilities she faces at home.
Meanwhile, after a period of strain, Louisa splits up with her boyfriend and plans a trip with Will. He falls ill with pneumonia. Afterward, they go to Mauritius, where Louisa confesses her love for him and tells him that she knows about his plan to end his life. Will tells her that he hasn't changed his mind: he can't live life as a quadriplegic. Louisa is angry and quits her job as his caretaker.
Will does carry through with his plan, but not before he and Louisa meet one last time. He flies to the clinic in Switzerland and dies shortly thereafter. Later, after some time has passed and the story concludes, we learn that he left Louisa a large amount of money to secure her independence. The book ends with Louisa sitting inside Will's favorite Parisian café, reading a letter that Will wrote to her before his death.