God, I wish I had that time back in my life = 0
Eh, it wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read = 1
Shrug, I mean, it was okay = 2
I enjoyed it = 3
Have your read this book? It’s pretty good = 4
Wow, you need to read this book now = 5
Me Before You = 3.5
Penguin Book Discussion Questions:
1. If you were Louisa, would you have quit working for the Traynors? If yes, at what point?
Yes, if I were Lou I would have quit working for the Traynors. It is not up to Lou to convince Will to continue living. I would also state that I was hired under false pretenses and call them out on that.
If it were me, I’d tell Will what his mother had done. I wouldn’t want him to be deceived further. I would stay on if he asked me to after that.
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?
Yes, I was able to relate. The only hard part to accept was how much love Will had. People around him truly loved him, truly wanted the best for him, truly wanted to be around him. The people who wanted him to live, outside of his sister, truly wanted to make his life as happy as they could. That was hard for me to overlook despite his physical situation. However, that does not negate the immense and perpetual emotional, spiritual, and physical loss for Will. All those people still get to live in their bodies pain free – Will does not. It goes toward the title, he is putting Me Before You, and rightfully so.
3. Discuss the meaning of the novel’s title. To whom do the “me” and “you” refer?
“Me” refers to everyone putting their needs before Will’s needs. What will Will’s death do to me? What will happen to me if the law comes into play? Everyone is so concerned about how the loss of Will will effect them and not truly taking into consideration what it means to live in Will’s body day in and day out. Will is going to finally put “me” before “you”.
4. Louisa often finds Mrs. Traynor cold and judgmental. Is there an appropriate way to behave in Mrs. Traynor’s situation?
No, there is no appropriate way. How would you feel if your child was in that situation? How would you feel if you had to rely on a complete stranger to try and turnaround your son’s desire to kill himself? She feels like a failure and she is barely holding on. I think what we can learn from her character is empathy and forgiveness. Let’s cut Mrs. Traynor some slack. However, she does truly fail in making her son feel like a child. He is still a grown man, her fussing is too much.
5. What is your opinion of Mr. Traynor? Did it change after you read his side of the story?
I think his character highlighted what would happen to a lot of people in trying times. They don’t want to be with their spouse, but then something happens. The spouse gets sick, a child gets sick, the economy tanks. I think he fairly represents what happens in a lot of families. He also seemed to represent more level-headed thinking.
6. Why is Louisa able to reach Will when so many others could not?
Once she starts treating him like a regular person they connect. Of course. This is how most people want to be treated. Not like just a number, just a woman, or just a quadriplegic. Plus, sometimes I think when people find themselves in the situation that Will does, it’s easier to work/get along with someone who didn’t know you before. There are no expectations, no reminders of who you used to be.
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?
Not necessarily. I think this question oversimplifies sibling relationships. I think some families can be exceptionally close, others, no. Georgina is selfish and doesn’t feel she owes her brother anything just because he is her brother. There is no familial bond. No friendship bond. It’s unfortunate, but this is pretty pervasive.
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?
No, Patrick would not have asked Lou to move in with him. Their relationship was long since over, but no one made any moves to end it. It was comfortable. It was part of Lou’s small world she had created for herself. Did they love each other, of course. Were they in love? No.
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?
Yes, I think most girls would blame themselves, just as society does. I think men need to start taking responsibility for their actions. No man HAS to rape a woman, it’s not like he can’t control himself. Just don’t rape, it’s so simple. How society somehow, ever, thought there were extenuating circumstances is beyond me.
As for Treena, I don’t know. The book didn’t go into what happened after the gang rape. In fact, for such a big plot point, the book barely goes into it. Maybe the book should look into how it views rape. Were they trying to skirt the issue to sell more books? Not be so graphic?
For all we know, maybe Treena tried to talk to Lou. We just don’t know. The whole thing was breezed over.
11. What did you make of the way Lou’s mother, Josie, judges Lou’s decisions regarding Will. Is Josie’s reaction fair?
I think she doesn’t judge her daughter, that’s quite a leap. I think she is trying to protect her daughter from hurt and prosecution. She’s a mom, she is trying to protect her child. It’s more than “fair”.
Is it moral? Is it good for Will? No, it’s not. It’s best for Will if his friend is there to see him through the hardest decision he has ever had to make. Absolutely it is best for Will, but Josie is looking at what the ramifications will be for her daughter. Anyone would fight tooth and nail to keep their daughter safe. It’s understandable.
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?
We value the wrong things in society. We always think that there is more time. The fact of the matter is, Louisa would not have wanted Will. She would not have wanted a shallow person. Well, perhaps one can’t say that because Patrick became fairly shallow at the end. However, she liked him less and less the more shallow he became. She mostly remained with Patrick because of safety reasons.
13. What did you think of Lou’s plan to change Will’s mind? Did you think she would be successful?
I thought it was terrible, selfish, and egocentric. No one has to live in that body but Will. Will is the only one who can change his mind. While I do think it was worthwhile to try and improve the quality of Will’s life, it was the lack of honesty that really got me. Everyone trying to handle Will as if he could be tricked, or molded. As if Will hadn’t really thought it through. In some ways, the way Lou treats Will is no better than Will’s mother – like a child. I was not on board with the plan. They all seem to not really, truly pay attention to Will’s true suffering. The one and only person in the book who truly understands Will is his nurse.
So there are my answers to the book discussion questions. Overall, I thought the writing in this book was hit and miss. While the overall story and concepts of the book were good, I never really felt any of the characters were really flushed out. We never really knew how Will felt. We never knew how hard it must be for Mrs. Traynor to see her son like that. For all the emphasis on the gang rape of Lou, it’s breezed over as much as Treena does. Even Lou’s character jumps from at one moment going to let Will die on his own, to just all of the sudden conveniently changing her mind with one phone call and jumping on a plane. So much for conviction. There was no heart felt change of mind on Lou’s part. She was sad he was going to die and dreaded the news, but never was it really brought to light that she felt like she made the wrong decision, thus making her second chance that much more meaningful.
I will say this, if he had chosen to live at the end I would have been super pissed, like throw my iPhone against the wall pissed (I listen on Audible). So, at least this book has that going for it.
I will end the discussion with this. One can never, ever know what it feels like to live in another person’s body. One can never know what it is like to be in pain, suffering, and alone for as long as Will was. People might think they know, but they don’t. Day after day, after month, after year … there is a whole other hell involved with that kind of time. It is an exhausting life. To constantly, everyday, have to pick yourself up and move forward. To give yourself a pep talk to make it through the day, everyday. There is nothing like it.
Until next time.
Madeline Fresco is a novelist who lives in San Diego. She is the author of CROSSED THE LINE, available for Kindle at Amazon.com, for Nook at Barnes & Noble, and as an ePub at other eBook retailers. You can also listen to her novel as a free, serialized audiobook at . Her second book THE CHOICE, is available on Kindle at Amazon. Her third book ANGUISH, is available for Kindle at Amazon.com