Me Before You

Me Before You Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Jojo Moyes's Me Before You. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Jojo Moyes

Jojo Moyes grew up in London, England and attended Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, London University. After graduating, Moyes received a bursary for the postgraduate newspaper journalism course at City University, London. In 1992, Moyes began working for The Independent newspaper and eventually became the Assistant News Editor in 1998. In 2002, Moyes started her career as a full-time novelist with the publication of her book Sheltering Sky. Since then, Moyes has written 11 novels, and won the Romantic Novelist’s Award twice for her books The Last Letter from your Lover in 2011 and Foreign Fruit in 2004. Me Before You was also nominated for the Book of the Year at the UK Galaxy Book Awards. She now lives on a farm in Essex, England with her husband and their three children.
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Historical Context of Me Before You

The novel centers on Will’s decision to end his own life, bringing to light the Right to Die debates about rational suicide. The Right to Die has been a controversial issue in many countries around the world, as certain religions or ethical codes recognize a person’s right to have autonomy over their own life while other doctrines are morally against suicide. Euthanasia, or assisted suicide, is legal in Switzerland, as Will goes to Dignitas Institute in Zurich rather than ending his life in the UK. Dignitas is a Swiss nonprofit member’s society that provides assisted or accompanied suicide to members who suffer from sever terminal, physical, or mental illnesses. Members must be of sound judgment, able to perform themselves the act of suicide, and must submit a formal report that includes a letter of intent as well as a complete medical history of their illness or condition. Dignitas has also been involved in several court cases regarding assisted suicide and has been a part of multiple documentaries about the right to die. As Dignitas is accused of being pro-death, they have met with profound opposition in the UK and elsewhere, and the issue has become a polarizing political platform in the UK in the 2000s and 2010s.

Other Books Related to Me Before You

Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You belongs to the tradition of realistic romance novels such as One Day by David Nicholls, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, or The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. All of these books follow their protagonists as they search for love in tragic circumstances. Me Before You also plays with the traditions of realistic novels that deal with thorny moral dilemmas, such as Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper.
Key Facts about Me Before You
  • Full Title: Me Before You
  • When Written: 2010-2012
  • Where Written: London and Essex, England
  • When Published: January 5, 2012
  • Literary Period: Contemporary Fiction
  • Genre: Novel, Romance
  • Setting: Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, England
  • Climax: When Louisa finally comes to terms with Will’s decision to end his own life, she joins him at Dignitas in Switzerland to say goodbye to him before his scheduled appointment.
  • Point of View: First person limited, mostly from the protagonist Louisa but including a chapter each from the perspectives of Camilla, Nathan, Steven, and Katrina.

Extra Credit for Me Before You

Real Life Inspiration. Moyes was inspired to write Me Before You because of her experience taking care of a family member struggling with a progressive disease that greatly reduced quality of life. Moyes then read about a 23-year-old rugby player who forced his parents to take him to Dignitas after a rugby incident left him quadriplegic—and she began to write the character of Will.

Controversy. Me Before You has garnered both criticism and praise from the disabled community. Disabled activists online used hashtags such as #MeBeforeEuthanasia and #MeBeforeAbleism to protest the story’s suggestion that disabled lives are not worth living. Yet other groups, such as the Christopher Reeves Foundation, appreciated the book (and its movie adaptation) for portraying a complex, heroic disabled character. Moyes herself has said in interviews that she has no opinion on the right to die and was simply trying to tell a specific story with realistic characters in that layered and multi-faceted situation.