Warning: Don’t read this review unless you’ve read Me Before You or don’t care about it!
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 read Me Before You two years ago and was absolutely devastated by it in the best way possible. When I saw that there was a sequel, I’ll admit I was a little undecided on if I’d read it. I loved Me Before You, but it didn’t seem like the type of story that would have a sequel, it ended traumatically but in a way that didn’t seem to warrant another book. What more could happen in Louisa’s life that would make another great, touching book? I was nervous the author might’ve decided to write a sequel only because of the success of MBY, not because there was more of Louisa’s story to tell. I went into After You hesitant, but hopeful.
There’s no way I could love After You as much as MBY but Moyes delivered another touching yet charming and funny novel that deals with the difficulties of moving on after the death of a loved one. This book takes a look into after the “happily ever after” (even though MBY didn’t end with one, it wrapped up optimistically) and focuses on Louisa trying to move on from Will’s death in a realistic way. It’s been over 18 months and she still hasn’t really begun living for herself. His death has changed her in ways she doesn’t understand yet and she’s unable to let go of him enough to find herself again. The pace of her progress was realistic, she didn’t just move on and begin life anew immediately after his death, she’s been floundering for some time and needs to focus on herself. She struggled a lot with how to build a life worth something despite her guilt that she’s profited from his death and had a lot of internal back and forth with her progress. Nothing was straightforward and the path wasn’t easy, which I appreciated.
When I read the description, I really thought I knew what would happen in this book. I was completely wrong, which is lovely because the entire plot took a turn I never expected. At first, I didn’t like where the book was going. The initial shock of it really threw me and I wasn’t happy, but that changed after a short time. Louisa’s progress is both hindered and helped by some new characters, Lily and Sam. In MBY, readers had fun watching Will and Lou get to know each other and had hope until the very end that Will would change his mind. After You feels like slumping along with Lou as she deals with the mess Will’s death has left her with. “Slumping” makes it sound like a bad thing, but it’s not. I liked settling into Louisa’s grief with her and watching her work through it despite the chaos and confusing new feelings Lily and Sam bring to her life. I also enjoyed the chaos that was swirling around in every other character’s life too. Relationships strained and families were frayed. Nobody was settled and perfectly happy in this book and it all took its toll on Lou. Between her parents’ difficulties, the altered relationship between Will’s parents and Lou’s relationship with her sister—everything was affected by Will’s death and the changes it caused in Lou.
I really love Jojo Moyes’ writing. From the start, it was easy to settle into the story and reunite with characters I really like. I did think the end of the first chapter was a little cheesy, but it was forgivable. The world she creates and the family dynamics she lays out are realistic and relatable. And she’s funny! I loved some of the dialogue in this book and laughed out loud more than once. I love Louisa, she has a great personality and keeps her sense of humor even at the worst of times.
I didn’t think this book was as amazing as Me Before You, but it was a really great read. Me Before You is a more emotional story and really grabs the readers in a way After You isn’t able to, but it’s worth reading and following Louisa’s story. I do recommend it, just don’t go into it expecting another story as heartbreakingly fantastic as Louisa and Will’s.
What do you think of After You? Let me know in the comments!