Book Talk: After You by Jojo Moyes

February 13, 2018
After You by Jojo Moyes

When I saw that Still Me, the final book in Jojo Moyes' Me Before You trilogy, was to be released on January 23, I thought it would be great to finish the series in the first couple weeks of February just in time for Valentine's Day. I played myself; not only have I been on hold for weeks and still number 114 on hold but After You, the book in the series, can hardly be classified as a romance.

A short synopsis: Six months after Will's death, Lou is somehow simultaneously lost in her life and stuck in the same place she's always been. She has a tedious job, no plan for the future; and now she's estranged from her family. The life of adventure Will wanted her to have is nowhere in sight. But when Louisa falls off her roof one night and almost loses everything, she's forced to reevaluate and try new things.

If you remember my Me Before You book + movie talk, one of the aspects I loved about the book was the depth of Louisa's character. She's not at all what she seems and deserves a lot more than what she has, though she'd never admit it. In After You, these parts of Lou are near impossible to find. She's fully aware of the choices she needs to make in order to move forward with her life, but constantly makes flimsy excuses for why she can't make the right choice. The new Louisa is selfish, reckless, and the opposite of the character I knew.

Another of my pet peeves in Me Before You is Lou being criticized and criticizing herself for her grieving period. Six months isn't much time at all in my opinion and if Lou needs a little more time to process and adjust then why can't she have that? Yes, she only knew Will for a very short amount of time, but it's clear that he had a profound impact on her life and that doesn't go away because he died. Her lies in the support group further the narrative that Louisa's grief is unjustified and this aspect of the story is never fully realized or addressed. Further, the story emphasizes how much Louisa needs to move on and pushes her in that direction so much so that her relationship with her new beau, Sam the paramedic, becomes the romance that never was. Louisa and Sam never take the time to get to know each other, jumping into a relationship and realizing that they're perfect for one another...sure, ok.

*Spoiler Alert*
The big whammy of the story is Lily, the daughter Will never knew he had. She's stereotyped as the moody teenager and even though she clearly has a number of serious traumas in her life, her character is poorly developed. Moreover, Louisa's opinion and feeling towards her is extremely ambiguous. Louisa feels obligated to take her in, after all, she is Will's daughter, but Louisa resents having another person to take care and when she's barely taking care of herself. Everytime Lily asked about Will, I couldn't help but feel bad for the both of them as there was only so much Louisa could tell her. Their relationship is obscure, and rightfully so, but it doesn't feel appropriate given the circumstances.
*Spoiler Alert End*

My final critique of After You is that there are a number of times where it tries to hard to emulate the good parts of Me Before You. There's a young female character who gets taken advantage of by older guys, Louisa is offered a job as a caretaker for a slightly troublesome character, and Treena expresses jealousy and anger at Louisa for "wasting" her freedom. After You wasn't a bad read by any means, it just seemed like an unnecessary sequel (see Mean Girls 2). Where the beginning is a bit slow, the end feels rushed and Louisa wraps up this chapter of her life abruptly. I did finish the story wondering what would happen next, but considering how After You went, I'm not sure I want to find out.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Have you read After You, what did you think? xx, Lauren


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