Friday, June 3, 2016 / No comments

Book Review: After You by JoJo Moyes (Sequel to Me Before You)

Pamela Dorman Books

[SPOILER ALERT! DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN'T READ ME BEFORE YOU OR IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW THE ENDING TO IT. YOU'VE BEEN WARNED SO DON'T BLAME IF THE ENDING GETS SPOILED FOR YOU. BESIDES, IF THE INTERNET HAS NOT ALREADY SPOILED IT FOR YOU THEN YOU HAVE BEEN LIVING UNDER A ROCK]

[Disclaimer: This book and movie has stirred a lot of controversy lately about the subject of death with dignity aka doctor-assisted suicide. In this review I am neither for or against it and am just reviewing the story, not a specific subject of the story]




Book: After You

Author: JoJo Moyes

Genre: Fiction

Subgenre: Romance, family, death, grief, relationships

My Review and Thoughts: I read Me Before You earlier this year after borrowing it from a friend. I knew that the movie was coming out and I am a big proponent of reading the book before seeing the movie (for compare and contrast reasons and because usually THE BOOK IS ALWAYS BETTER. ALWAYS. Usually). Going in with a very blank (and open) mind (though I knew it was a romantic tear-jerker judging by the movie trailer), I was instantly invested in the characters. Moyes writes with an earnest and realistic hand, showing off her characters' good and bad sides in equal measure.

I fell in love with Louisa Clark, a cheerful and brightly dressed but stuck young woman, and Will Traynor, a once successful businessman and adventurous traveler, now a depressed quadriplegic, like they fell in love with each other. Lou was hired to care for Will, and though he was already set on ending his life, another reason Lou was hired was to see if she could change his mind about his decision. Through lots of conversation and some adventures, they grew to love and care for each other, sharing their thoughts, secrets and dreams, with Will pushing Lou to live and experience life, like he used to when he was able. But as much as Will loved Lou and vice versa, it wasn't enough for him to stay and suffer in declining health as a quadriplegic. He argued that he couldn't truly be everything he could for her and with great sadness, she finally supported him in his decision to end his life in Switzerland.

(That was such crappy paraphrasing. Me Before You is so much better. Just go read that now instead of that summary and then come back to this review)

The sequel, After You, is in no way as good as the first, obviously, but I am so glad that Moyes decided to write it because it may not be as emotionally taut, it helps not only Lou deal with her grief over losing Will, but ours as well. At the end of Me Before You, Will encourages Lou to live life, go travel, have adventures, and pursue her dreams. He also leaves her a vast amount of money to help with all of this. Lou does travel, to Paris, across Europe, but though she sees the sights she doesn't really take them in. Will is always a cloud hanging over her head and when she arrives back in London, in a lonely flat she's bought with Will's money, working a boring job at an Irish themed bar in an airport.

Lou is just going through the motions, living, but not in the way Will wanted her to. A sudden accident throws Lou into a series of events that will introduce her to a new love internet, reunite with her family (her mother was livid with her choice of supporting Will to end his life) and forces her to come to terms with the fact that Will is gone. And a mysterious person from Will's past will make Louisa and everyone else who cared about Will see him in a whole new light, and help them see a possible future without him.

After You is a great example of the grief process and how it's different for everyone. What may take a year for one person, for another person it may take many years. You'll go through ups and downs, blame yourself, blame your loved one, be filled with guilt, denial, or anger. After her accident, Lou joins a group for those who are having trouble moving on from a loved one passing, where she meets a colorful cast of people (one of the best parts of Moyes' books are the back and forth conversations of the characters), who are all at different stages of their grieving process. Grief and fear has made Lou stuck and even a hunky new love interest, Sam (sometimes known as Ambulance Sam, in loving reference to his profession) is making it hard for her to move past Will in a way that won't dishonor his memory and the love they had for each other.

All of the characters you've loved (or not loved) from the first book (Lou's mother, father, Treena, their grandfather, Thomm, Nathan, even Patrick -boo- and Mr. and Mrs. Traynor and Will's sister) have their parts to play in the aftermath of life without Will. Lou's crazy, loving family was one of my favorite parts about the first book and I was so happy that we got to revisit that group and their joys and struggles.

The love story of Will and Lou will never compare to any emotionally charged part of the second book, but as much as we all loved him, all we really want is for quirky, cheerful Lou to be happy again. Even if it means moving on, but never forgetting, about Will.

Should You Read It: If you enjoyed the first book, then yes. If you haven't, then you'll probably be pretty confused and wonder why this girl Louisa and everyone else in the book is so sad about losing a guy named Will. So you should probably read the first book, then this book, and your life will probably be better for it. Well, I really liked both of the books so I recommend them. But you do what you want. Read them, don't read them. Live your life, queen! Or whatever all the kids are saying these days.

Catch you later, fellow weirdos!

-That Weird Girl Emily


Where to Buy:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Or, check out a copy from your local library!

Goodreads:
After You
Author Page

Check Out the Author:
Official Website
Twitter
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