Book Review – After You

After You (Me Before You, #2)After You by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

“You learn to live with it, with them. Because they do stay with you, even if they’re not living, breathing people any more.
It’s not the same crushing grief you felt at first, the kind that swamps you, and makes you want to cry in the wrong places, and get irrationally angry with all the idiots who are still alive when the person you love is dead.

It’s just something you learn to accommodate.

Like adapting around a hole. I don’t know. It’s like you become … a doughnut instead of a bun”

 

Okay, so I absolutely adored Me Before You. It got under my skin in a way that’s hard to explain, and I fell for both Will and Louisa and wanted them to be my friends and be in my life forever and go for coffee and long conversations with me.

Of course, that’s impossible, and not just because they are fictional characters. Okay, well mostly that, but in my little world of book love, that’s not always a problem. (There’s always re-reading in coffee shops and… oh, never mind…)

I read Me Before You very recently (December last), and this had already been released then, so I read the first with the expectation of reading the second (put myself on the wait list at the library as soon as the first book came in – before I even started reading it!). I think that may have made the read a little different for me, for both books, knowing there would be an after. I wasn’t angry about it. I didn’t wish that the author had left well enough alone, as I’ve read in some other reviews.

Although there was a point, near the end of the book, where I was wandering around the house, reading and waving the book and audibly threatening the author if she did what i feared she would do.

Don’t worry, Jojo Moyes, you’re safe now that I’m done.

The writing in this book is phenomenal. The characters are sharply and expertly drawn, and their development is so natural that it’s like watching a friend grow and change through life. This is very much a character driven book, rather than a plot driven book; not a ton of import happens. Well, apart from one ENORMOUS bombshell, but I’m not spoilering that one. Like the first book, this was incredibly witty and made me laugh.

“I swallowed. “Mum, you’re not going to get divorced, are you?” Her eyes shot open. “Divorced? I’m a good Catholic girl, Louisa. We don’t divorce. We just make our men suffer for all eternity.” She waited just for a moment, and then she started to laugh.”

 

I just adore Louisa’s family.

And understanding grief, I understood what Louisa was going through all too well as she struggled with finding a purpose and a reason and a life now, after Will. I saw myself in her, from the last year or so, wallowing without intention, standing still and letting the world move around you without streaming along with it. It hurt my heart to see bright, funny, quirky Louisa in the same places I’ve been.

“You know what makes me feel down? The way you keep promising to live some kind of a life, then sacrifice yourself to every waif and stray who comes across your path.”

 

But it was full of hope, too. Because she was able to recognize where she was and what she was going through and was able to reach out and grab onto new opportunities. Okay, maybe there were some false starts, but who hasn’t been there?

“What became clear as I sat on my plastic chair and drank my instant coffee was that I had somehow found myself on the other side. I had crossed a bridge. Their struggle was no longer my struggle. It wasn’t that I would ever stop grieving for Will, or loving him, or missing him, but that my life seemed to have somehow landed back in the present.”

 

If you enjoyed Me Before You, and you have an open mind as to where Louisa goes from there, I think you’ll like this book. If you’ve dealt with any kind of grief that changes your life, you’ll relate. And if you haven’t read the first book yet… well go do that right away, for heaven’s sake.

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