After You by Jojo Moyes - A Perfect Sequel

Me Before You #2

“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.

I'll admit that when I finished Me Before You, I was skeptical that it was a good idea to write a sequel, because how could anything ever live up to something that was as astounding, emotional, and heartbreaking as the first book? Well, I come here before you reading said sequel, and it is pretty much the balm to my heart after it was ripped into pieces by the last book. I'm so happy Jojo Moyes came out with this book because it ties up the knots that were left gaping by Me Before You, and it helps not only Louisa, but also us emotionally-invested readers, get over everything that happened with Will Traynor. So what is it about this book that kept it from being a disappointment?

1. We get to know see Louisa in the aftermath of Will - more as an individual person on her own in the world rather than the girl living with her parents and spending every available hour trying to change a stubborn mind.

We see her learning to get over Will while making mistakes of her own, meeting new people - a few of which actually connect her further to Will - as well as reconnecting with pretty much all of the old cast from book one. We get to see that Will is not a perfect person (though this was alluded to in the last book as well) and that no, his giving Louisa the money to live her dreams does not exactly and immediately lead to the happily ever after he may have expected and hoped for. In this book, Louisa honestly seems slightly more badass while her selflessness shines through yet again, and I kind of want to be like her when I grow up. I loved getting to know Louisa better, and honestly wouldn't begrudge the author a third book in the series.

2. Though there is certainly an emphasis on Louisa's character development, After You gives readers an opportunity to get to know the supporting cast of characters better, and indeed reveals essential developments on their parts as well.

I kind of disowned Louisa's mother after the first book because they were so darn annoying at times - then again, family always is - and didn't support her when she was trying to make the right decision for herself during Will's assisted suicide. In fact, I kind of disowned the entire family thanks to the outrageous drama and their not-very-nice attitude toward dear Louisa. However, after this book, I love Louisa's family just as much as she does. Except maybe her sister: her haughtiness really gets to me. Anyways, I love the effect Will's decisions/attitude had on Louisa's mother. It was wholly unexpected but so so perfect, and it was honestly probably the best thing to come from Will's death. Other important characters such as Nathan, Mr. Traynor, and the ex-Mrs. Traynor also have their share in this story, and it was so nice not only seeing familiar faces, but also being able to see what happened to them, and how they themselves are continually growing and changing.

3. You may think that no man can possibly be acceptable for Louisa after Will, but you are so wrong.

That's all I'm going to say. Just know that this dude is very adorable, very different from Will, and very perfect for Louisa. Honestly, he's probably too perfect for this world.

4. Along similar lines, the new characters introduced in this book are wonderful, and some terrible, but they fit perfectly and make this a story that's once again easy to get invested in.

5. Before this book, I realized I was actually quite angry at Will for his decision in Me Before You. I wanted to call him selfish, arrogant, and other things, but it's more than likely that that was unfair of me. Ultimately, it really was his choice to make. 

But what I love is that this book made me stop analyzing how to feel about what he did. He did it, it happened - it doesn't really matter whether it was right or wrong, or what it said about his character. Life moves on, and sometimes some questions are best left unanswered. Will is a part of Louisa, yes, but his decision does not have to define her. Things are never in black and white, and it's not up to us to be responsible for everyone's decision ever, or to know the right way to go about things. We can only do our best, and sometimes just rant at the world for not giving Will something to live for, and at Will for not finding anything to live for in the world.


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