Title: After You by Jojo Moyes
Series: Me Before You #2
Genres: Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Source: Library Loan
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.
**Spoilers for Me Before You are included in this review.**
I admit I was a little nervous about reading After You. I wondered if it was really necessary and if it was going to ruin all my good feelings about Me Before You. Me Before You was the first I’d read by Jojo Moyes and became one of my favorite books of 2013 – and made me want to immediately read more from her. I was okay with how Me Before You ended. I had my own thoughts of what became of Lou and I was good with that. Two years pass and here’s a sequel? Cue the misgivings…
All that worry for nothing! After You managed to pull me right back into Lou’s world, but what a different world it was this time. I had such high hopes for Lou at the end of Me Before You. She had grown so much during her time with Will and I just knew she would blossom and really start living. Yeah, not so much. After You finds Lou very much in limbo – a year and a half after Will’s death and drowning in grief. Living alone in a small apartment, working at an airport bar, estranged from her family, and basically being a total recluse. She’s (barely) keeping up the appearance on moving on but nothing could be further from the truth. Will's plea for Lou to live boldly? Not happening.
Enter several new faces in Lou’s life: members of a bereavement group that she begrudgingly attends, a paramedic her comes to her aid, and most significantly, a troubled teenage girl. In different ways each of these people force Lou out of hiding and she starts to engage in life again. But that comes with risks and Lou isn’t so sure she’s ready – or willing – to put her heart on the line again. Love leads to loss, right?
You should have been here, Will, I told him silently.
It was you she really needed.
While After You is a very different book than Me Before You, it was still the writing that pulled me right in. Moyes has a way of presenting her characters in all their messy, flawed glory and manages to make you feel personally invested in their very well-being. The cast of secondary characters provided relief from what could have been a very dark tale of Lou’s grieving. But there was humor and friendship and love and the possibility of so much more.
None of us move on without a backward look.
We move on always carrying with us those we have
lost. What we aim to do in our little group is ensure
that carrying them is not a burden, something that
feels impossible to bear, a weight keeping us stuck
in the same place. We want their presence to feel like a gift.
After You didn’t quite destroy me like its predecessor but it still packed an emotional punch. I hurt for Lou, I got frustrated with her and wanted to shake her, and I cheered for her. If you’ve read Me Before You I highly recommend continuing on with After You. And that kinda-sorta open ending has me wondering if there’s not more to come in Lou’s story. If so, I’ll be first in line to experience it.