After You by Jojo Moyes
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Publishing Date: 24th September 2015
Series: Me Before You #2
Number of pages: 407
Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction
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.
Back in 2012 I read “Me Before You” and I still remember how powerful this book was, and what a snotty mess I was after finishing it. Three years later “After You”, the sequel, was released and even though I bought this novel immediately I haven’t read it – I’m not sure why, maybe it was lack of time, or maybe fear that it’s not going to live up to my expectations, because “Me Before You” was a really exceptional read. But lately I have won “Still Me”, the third book in Lou’s adventures, and it prompted me to read “After You” – and boy, I loved it. I simply loved it.
First of all, I don’t think you can read “After Me” as a standalone – I think you just have to read the previous book to understand how much Will meant to Lou, why she’s in such a mess in this book, that begins 18 months after the previous story ends. 18 months is a long time, right, people change, people move on, people try their best at coping, and it was all so moving – to see how they try to cope with their emotions and feelings.
Lou and her family are wonderful, brilliant characters, her parents (especially her father) and sister adding a touch of so much needed humour. There were some new characters introduced to us in this story, of course – the Moving On Group, a group that Lou was so reluctant to go to, determined not to make friends with those people, and who in the end turned out to be such important part of her life. They provided many moments of sadness but also of laughter and their stories just tugged at your heartstrings.
Even though Will is dead, his presence was so very strong in the book but the author has done a great job here, because I personally think she allowed us to mourn over him, together with Lou, in this story, and then to slowly let him go, to slowly start to accept the fact that he’s no more. I also think that the author has put Sam facing a great challenge – it was impossible not to compare him and Will but in my opinion Sam has won – he’s a great character, with a brilliant personality, a no nonsense approach and a heart made of gold, and even though I was always Team Will, I liked Sam from the very beginning – even when Lou has misunderstood and we thought he’s a different person. There is also one very important new character, and while I know some people despise her, and – I must admit – I also lost my patience with her a few times, Lou has done brilliantly with her, she understood her and her feelings so perfectly well.
This book was a perfect mix of humour and sadness, of hope and feeling pathetic. It was emotional, and moving, close to life and simply beautiful. Jojo Moyes captured all the feelings and emotions of her characters and beautifully put them into words. It was an extraordinary read about moving on but not forgetting. It felt real and it was written with so much gentleness. It made me cry and it made me laugh, and this laugh made characters’ pain bearable, the pain of moving over, of hurts sneaking up on you, of feeling unloved. It was emotionally charged, and about healing, about learning to believe in yourself again. Jojo Moyes knows exactly how to get to the core of your emotions and feelings, and there were moments that hit me really hard, that were shockingly painful but they were also powerful and beautiful. I can’t put into words how well the author has got into her characters’ heads and how well she described their feelings – I was totally invested in Lou’s story and I highly recommend “After You” to you!