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.
This book made me so happy.
There seems to be a lot of controversy regarding its existence, though. Many people on Goodreads say that the revolutionary Me Before You should’ve been left as a stand-alone book, that this sequel unnecessarily tainted their experience of reading its predecessor. Initially, I also definitely felt that the closure of Me Before You was just thrown in the trash when, at the start of After You, Lou had lost the enthusiasm she’d once confidently held. I felt robbed of the hopeful ending from the first book that Moyes had difficultly, yet successfully, managed. After You seemed too harsh in its realism. However, as I read on, I began viewing this sequel as separate from the first because while it was founded on the occurrences of Me Before You, it brought up many new characters and their own set of issues. It was its own–not adding very much to the first book’s charm, but not necessarily taking away from it either.
This book had a notable amount of romance (which I think was a bit too perfect, especially compared to the first book), but I feel like the larger focus was on relationships in general. Moyes beautifully wrote about the complexity of family and friendship, and about the healing it can provide. There were many instances where everything just felt so jumbled and chaotic, where one step forward just meant two steps back, but the ups and downs made this book heartfelt and quite brutally honest.
✋ The following paragraph contains spoilers.
The development of the characters and their relationships was well written because they just meshed well with one another, which made me smile. The dynamic between Mrs. Traynor & Lily was especially cute and I just felt so immensely happy for them both. Poor Mr. Traynor, though… Anywho, I also really loved the Moving On Circle and the humorous, bittersweet role it played in this novel. Overall, there was just a consistent theme that really anyone can unintentionally, unexpectedly end up making a substantial dent in your life, for better or for worse (but usually–hopefully–for better). This was wonderfully depicted in the penultimate scene on the roof when they were all so vulnerable with and supportive to one another. It was, without a doubt, my favorite chapter. 💚
👍 Spoilers end here.
Admittedly, there were some conflicts that seemed too easily solved and moments that were just so cliche, but what’s a book without some cheesiness?
Also, funny story: Near the end of chapter 17, I accidentally mixed up the names of two characters. By thinking the person in the scene was someone else, I completely misunderstood the scene as a lot more shocking than it really was. I then proceeded to re-read this scene because it didn’t really make much sense, and I realized that it didn’t actually have the ~shocking plot twist~ I thought it did. I could relax. But of course, what I’d incorrectly envisioned in my head actually occurred mere paragraphs later (this time with the right character), and what I assume was meant to be a jaw-dropping moment was thoroughly ruined.
TLDR: Make sure you have your character names straight.
Truthfully, this book felt a bit mainstream (in contrast to Me Before You), but regardless, this book was an all-in-all wonderful reminder that everyone’s essentially just playing life by ear and you can only try your best.
“You live. And you throw yourself into everything and try not to think about the bruises.”Moyes, After You
If you’re looking for a feel-good book about healing and family (and romance), you should give this book a read!