Sunday, March 6, 2016

Book Review: After You

This review contains spoilers.

After You
By Jojo Moyes
Viking, 2015

In this sequel to Me Before You, Louisa recounts her surge towards a new life right after Will's death. Heading out in Paris to "live boldly", she found herself in a downward spiral after the initial high of receiving Will's legacy. The old folks back in England are in a bad state of mind and heart like Louisa except for Nathan, who seems to be the only one who has his act together.

At the end of Me Before You, Louisa received a letter from Will that explained what he wants her to do with her life. It took her more than a year to figure things out and the reader is taken to witness the ups and down of Louisa's grieving process.

What worked

Will is now an invisible character in the novel, but his presence is strongly felt by those who love him dearly. His father, though starting a family of his own, is in a state of melancholy. His mother has turned into a hermit whose only way of coping is through gardening. Louisa struggles the most with the guilt, the loss and the pressure of living boldly. How can you really live with great abandon and positivity after death. Enter the weekly counseling and therapy session, which Louisa attended after her fall from her apartment's rooftop. In the company of people who experienced a loss, Louisa found common ground in a process that is not as easy as it looks especially for the reader, like myself, who has been invested in the Will and Louisa love team.

New characters emerge and were introduced in funny and surprising events. There is Will's long lost daughter, Lily. Sam the paramedic and a host of new friends Louisa was able to make along the way that helped her overcome the mourning process. How conjoined death and living are. Even Louisa's family felt the effect of Will's death through her. Take for example, her mother's sudden turn to feminism and her sister's aggressive attempts to wake her up from a zombie-like existence.

In the end, Louisa made the choice to just live and to live life well. This second book stays true to its message that free will, our capacity to make our own choices enables us to live boldly and to love fully. And this was amplified once more from Sam's choice to let Louisa take that job in New York. After You is indeed a romance story that broke the typical happily ever after mould.

What did not work

Lily's arrival in Louisa's life after Will's death is, really, ah, surprising. But, Will was introduced as a playboy early on, so why am I surprised to find Lily at Louisa's rooftop? Because the only lasting relationship Will had before his accident was with Lissa. Lily was a blast from the past. It could have worked better if in the first novel, there was a mention or an indication of a tryst that may have resulted in an unexpected pregnancy of one of Will's girls.

Overall, Afyer You is a sequel that fits the closure (or is it - because it is interesting to figure out how Sam and Lou plan to work out a long distance relationship) to a beautiful and unforgettable love story.

Rating: 3.5 Bookmarks

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