After You by Jojo Moyes is the sequel to her very popular book Me Before You (my review can be found here). I’ve been dying to read it since inhaling the first one, but only recently managed to pick it up. Some spoilers ahead!
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. – Goodreads
After You picks up about 18 months after Me Before You left off. Louisa has tried to ‘Live Boldly’ (as Will requested), but ultimately finds herself back in England in a dead-end job at an airport bar. She is still grieving, stagnant, and just a big mess. The story chronicles her journey through that grief, to finally achieving some peace and happiness in her life post-Will.
Moyes’ portrayal of grief and its many layers is refreshingly real. It’s not romantic, or quick and clean. Louisa slowly learns to care and rely on others again, while overcoming her fear of losing the people she loves. Really, Louisa has become a much more fleshed out character this time around; I found myself at turns feeling worried and/or hopeful at her continued growth and progress.
Story-wise, the narrative is tight and well-paced; it’s an easy read and I flew through it in a single sitting. Moyes also managed to end the story in a way I wish all contemporary romances aimed for: with hope, rather than complete wish fulfillment. Louisa has uncertainty ahead, but this time is ready to bravely face it.
I think I’m now a Moyes fan, and I’ve started reserving her other books at the library. I look forward to reading them.