Shouldn’t it be “You Before Me”? I’ve never been madly in love, but general knowledge tells me that you’re supposed to wish for your true love’s happiness before your own. Jojo Moyes thinks differently; she views love in a more realistic light.
All the romance novels I’ve read end one of two ways. Option 1, the happy ending: despite hard circumstances, the couple realizes that love is most important. Option 2, the tragic ending: the couple is madly in love, but there are obstacles (inevitable death, almost always) that keep them apart.
The ending of Me Before You is tragic, and yes, it involves death. So how is it different from every other tragic romance story? Tragedy is a matter of choice here.
Will Traynor is a quadriplegic who wants to die. After meeting Louisa, however, he is faced with the choice to live somewhat happily ever after with the woman he loves and who loves him back. Nevertheless, Will chooses death. He makes the selfish decision, disappointing his family and most importantly, Lou. His reason is simple: love is great, but not enough. He says “I can’t do this because I can’t … can’t be the man I want to be with you. And that means that this – this just becomes … another reminder of what I am not.”
This conclusion shocked me. I thought, if I were ever given the same choice, I would choose the somewhat happy life over death a million times, despite the frustration and pain that would come with it. Also, I probably couldn’t bear to see the ones I love suffer in watching me go.
What would you choose? Will leaves Louisa a posthumous letter that says “Push yourself. Don’t settle. Just live well. Just LIVE.” For him, the pain of not being able to live the way he wanted to was greater than the fear of leaving his beloved and dying.
Do you think he made the right decision?
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.