by Jojo Moyes
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.
As the sequel to “Me Before You“, “After You” had a lot to look up to. I thoroughly enjoyed Jojo Moyes‘ story of ordinary Louisa falling for quadriplegic Will Traynor, and I had high expectations for the follow up.
I’m pleased to say I really enjoyed “After You”. We catch up with Louisa some months after Will’s death and her life isn’t going quite to plan. The flat she bought with the money Will left her is bare and unloved, she’s working in a themed airport bar and she’s having problems moving past her grief. Then in chapter one she falls from a great height, literally.
“And then, like a nightmare, I am weightless, in the abyss of the night air, my legs flailing above my head as I hear the shriek that may be my own –
And then all is black.”
While the story continues as a sequel, “After You” could easily be a stand alone book, with new dramas, new themes and new characters in tow. The leading lady Lou is lovable, she’s realistic, honest and easy to relate to. Moyes uses this sequel to truly delve into Louisa’s character, revealing new sides to her personality. Through her heartbreak and work struggles, we see who she really is. The characters in this book are clear, individual and well developed and I was fond of them all, from mourning Mrs Traynor all the way to Lou’s stubborn and demanding new boss Richard.
Full of quirky, yet down to earth characters, I really enjoyed this book. I sped through the pages and was hooked throughout. The main plot point sees Louisa form a bond with rebellious teenager Lily. Their friendship is raw, honest and at times confused. At points Louisa feels torn between being her mother and her friend.
“I didn’t hear from Lily for two days. Half of me was concerned, the other a tiny bit relieved just to have a brief interlude of calm.”
Dramatic and romantic throughout, this book is not without humour too. From Louisa’s tacky work outfit and wig to Lou’s weekly therapy group going off on tangents and complaining about the biscuits. We even see Louisa’s mum refusing to shave her legs after taking a number of feminist classes and her dad complaining when he has to make his own cup of tea and resorts to eating sandwiches rather than cook a dinner.
While things fall nicely into place towards the end, the only issue I have with this book was the very very dramatic event which happens in the last few chapters. Without spoiling the plot and giving too much away, I felt like this was unnecessary, slightly out of tone with the rest of the book and it didn’t sit right with me. Something far less dramatic could have had the same effect if written well.
Overall rating: I really loved this story of moving on after loss and heartbreak. With detailed, realistic characters, the funny, honest and sweet sequel to “Me Before You“, “After You”, scores 5 stars.