Book Review | “After You” by Jojo Moyes

WARNING: Possible “Me Before You” spoilers ahead.

I’m a little slow on the draw by reviewing this book so long after the hype of its predecessor, “Me Before You” (movie adaptation released in June 2016), has died down. However, if you’re a mom, it’s the hardest thing in the world to find the time to sit down and focus on much else than a grocery list. And, to be honest, I have a hard enough time with that.

A love of reading is something that just came naturally to me since childhood. I really, truly enjoy it. Funnily enough, it’s despite the fact that both of my parents dislike sitting down with even a 16 page magazine. Three pages in and sleep usually overtakes them. But, enough about that… Let’s dig into this book!

 

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Annnnnd… *cue the waterworks*.

If you read “Me Before You”, and you’re any bit of the hopeless romantic I am, those last words gripped you in a vice and didn’t let go. They haunted you and made you angry and sad all at the same time. Please, tell me that isn’t just me?

I could not wait to get my hands on the sequel, “After You”. But, to be honest, I was a little nervous about what to expect within its pages. What could there possibly be left to say? The ending of the first book felt so… final.

Like the trailblazing novel before it, this book is narrated by the main female character, Louisa Clark. Now, living in London, in the wake of the traumatic events that befell her six months earlier. She’s transformed into a new person, post Will Traynor, but she isn’t quite sure who that person is. Nor is she confident it’s the person she wants to me. Let alone the person Will encouraged her to become in their time together.

As she ponders what her life will be, and the distressing routine she’s adopted, calamity strikes. After an unfortunate accident, a mysterious stranger comes into Clark’s life and thrusts her into circumstances she is neither prepared nor equipped to handle. Barely able to motivate herself day-to-day, Clark attempts to rally strength. Her attendance to a grievance group and the possibility of new love force her to wonder, can she risk all that moving on means and build a life worth living? (Read full summary of this best-seller HERE.)

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I was surprised when this story started out a bit slower than the last. But, I wasn’t deterred; simply because I felt that my curiosity wouldn’t be satisfied until I knew the entire chronicle of this enthralling protagonist and the outcome of those surrounding her.  Truth be told, I get quite emotionally attached to at least one, if not more, characters in the fictions I choose. Reading “After You”, I felt like I was privy to the diary of the close friend who was wandering in the confusion between love and loss.

Jojo Moyes did and excellent job of providing readers with relatable characters as well as substance for a captivating storyline. While I know the events described here aren’t real, I found myself rooting for Miss Clark to find her way, grow into herself, and be free of the shadows she carries with her. At the same time, I felt deeply upset that she would have to let go of one fondness in order to attach her heart to others again.

I really thought I had won the battle with my overactive subconscious until I got to chapter 22. Then, I started unraveling at the seams, just as I had before. I stayed up all night finishing the book and crying through the last six chapters or so and getting annoyed at my husband snoring next to me. Haha. (Sometimes you just need a good cry in peace, ya know?)

By the ending– the final page, the final paragraph, the final sentence– I was left an emotional wreck. In each of the books, you tend to imagine ‘happily ever after’, you imagine predictability, and what you get is a more complicated, bittersweet conclusion instead. Maybe that’s why the undertones of this fiction are so easily identified with. Life doesn’t always go the way we expect. In fact, it rarely ends up exactly as we hope. Sometimes it turns out for the better and, all too often, our expectations are lead to disappointment by one or another downfall or disaster.

“After You” helped me to remember that if struggles are real to you then they matter, no matter what other people think. Moving on sometimes seems impossible. Loving hard is worth it; even if what you hold dear is torn from you, in some ways it will be ever-present. But, getting past a rough day, month, year– it’s doable. Trusting in others, whatever the risk, and acquiring courage can make all the difference in where we are headed.

All in all, I’m glad I bought and read this novel. I give it four stars. Taking one star off because there were some parts that I felt could’ve been pushed along a little quicker. And, other spots seemed to hold great importance to the integrity of the plot but, I felt, were rushed too swiftly.

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Have you read this already? What are your observations and opinions?

If you haven’t read it, do you plan to? Leave me a comment down below and let me know your thoughts!

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