“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.
*Some spoilers ahead*
Having read Me Before You and also watched the film adaptation – both leaving me sobbing uncontrollably and deeply affected by Louisa and Will’s story – I was excited but also a bit nervous to read After You. Sequels can be a bit tricky sometimes, for a number of reasons, but especially when one of the main characters in the last novel, who we spent so much time with and grew so attached to is not actually present. I knew this going in, of course, but it was different when I began reading and started to realise that the entire tone and narrative here shifted.
Where Me Before You is a story about possibilities and finding love, of the sweet buildup, After You deals with the realities of choices, of trying to move on after loss and how messy life can be. I have such mixed feelings about this novel honestly, but I’ll try and form them into some semblance of a review.
I thought the exploration of Lou’s grief and inability to move on after Wills death was realistic and well done. I can’t imagine how difficult dealing with such a loss would be, especially knowing that it was the persons choice not to live. Especially when it’s the person you’re in love with, the grief is so much more complex. The parts of the novel where Lou thinks about Will and tries to move on, in the ways she knows how, although it isn’t the healthiest at times was touching. There’s no one right or clearcut way to move on and it’s definitely a journey. As well as dealing with her own grief, we read as Lou deals with the fallout of her choice to support Will and how people around her, including her own mother, can’t seem to understand it.
The first quarter of the novel was a bit so-so for me but it definitely picks up the pace and I feel like the heart kicks back in as well. I liked that Moyes introduced Lily, as a completely new character and the ‘surprise’ of it all. While some elements of this storyline did feel a tad predictable, it didn’t bother me too much and I thought the relationship that develops between Lou and Lily was sort of sweet, I definitely admire Lou’s patience!
There were a few story elements and moments which felt a bit unnecessary or a tad out of place to me. One such element was Lous mum and her getting into feminism and this whole repeated point of her not shaving her legs, like I have no problem with the actual idea of it but I feel like it was just a bit ?? that’s the only way I can describe it.
Overall, l really appreciate the effort on part of Moyes to write a continuation to Lou’s story and give readers what they may have been searching for. Although it started off a bit unsteady for me and it has certain issues, I think the story picked up and I grew to really enjoy it and it leaves off on an exciting note. I’m definitely going to be reading the next instalment in the series very soon!
Until next time,