My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“I loved a man who had opened up a world to me but hadn’t loved me enough to stay in it”
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes is probably one of my all time favourite reads so I have to admit that I approached After You with a bit of trepidation. There was no way it could possibly be as good and from what I’d heard hadn’t been planned by the author but was written due to all the requests from fans to find out what happens next.
After You probably isn’t as good (I don’t think it ever could be) but I think it is, for the most part, a great sequel. Jojo Moyes writing is fantastic as always and the story is interesting but the real draw is the character of Lou Clark and how her character develops. This is a story of loss, grief and moving on (or trying to) so it’s an emotional read but it’s definitely worth it.
“You’re going to feel uncomfortable in your new world for a bit. But I hope you feel a bit exhilarated too. Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle. Just live well. Just live. Love, Will.”
How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?
Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.
Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .
For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.
I have to admit I’ve found this book almost impossible to review as, for some reason, I just can’t find the words to describe it or how it made me feel. Essentially it’s about the fall out from the events of the previous book. Lou is trying to meet her promise to Will to live her life, Will’s family are coping with their grief in their own ways and life is just generally going on for those left behind.
Coping with grief and moving on seems to be the main point of this story and I have to say the author handles it very well. As you can probably guess it’s not a happy book, I think I cried my way through pretty much all of it, but it was a story that made me think and feel a lot of things I haven’t in a while. I could really empathise with Lou, particularly at the start where she seems lost, lonely and guilty. I have to admit that in the breaks between reading I found my mind wandering back to it which I always think is a good thing.
What I also thought worked really well was how, as well as bringing back the characters from the previous book, the author introduces a whole lot of new characters from Lou’s new job and her support group. The support group in particular show the different types of loss and grief and shows the different ways people find of dealing with it. Surprisingly Lou’s sessions at the support group were some of the funniest parts of the story. I loved how they would wander off from what they were supposed to be discussing (I would never do something like that 🙂 ).
Despite grief being a big part of this story it’s not all doom and gloom. There are some really funny moments mostly involving her job and the support group and, without giving too much away, there is a bit of optimism when Lou is pushed to get out and about and even a little bit of romance.
Like most of Jojo Moyes books it’s quite slow, but in a good way. I was originally going to say that not much happens but when I think back a lot did actually happen. It just flows so naturally and realistically that you don’t notice how exceptional some of the events are.
It’s not a perfect book and there were a few things that niggled at me a little, one of which was the switch to a different narrator at one point, but I did enjoy it. Jojo definitely has a talent for creating characters that are very realistic and completely believable. They all have their strengths and weaknesses and no one is perfect and for that reason you can’t help but be drawn in to their journey.
Overall, despite my initial trepidation, I’m very glad to have read this book and I’d definitely recommend it.