Book Review: After You by Jojo Moyes

“Far easier for you to just stick with that depressing little job and complain about it. Far easier for you to sit tight and not take a risk and make out that everything that happens to you is something you could not help.”

How do you move on after losing your loved one? How one builds a life worth living when a person you loved truly leaves you in the midst?

moyes-after-you

Photo Collage: After You

Losing someone you love is very painful and grief is a natural response to loss. On top of grief and pain, you are forced to make changes that you are not prepared to make. It becomes hard to keep your life in line. You are supposed to look forward and let go of the past. You have to move on without feeling like you are betraying the one you have lost.

I was very anxious to read the sequel after reading the first novel ‘Me Before You’. In the first book, the quadriplegic Will wish to end his own life. Louisa Clark worked as caretaker of Will. Both fell in love for each other but probably not hard enough to change his mind.

In the second novel ‘After You’; Will’s death devastated Lou and she had no idea what to do

with her life.  Lou tried to cope with her loss and how grief had consumed her? How did she tackle Will’s death?

All these questions were brewing in my mind. ‘After You’ is an answer to all my answers about Lou’s life. It’s true that we cannot forget our love but once a person dies we cannot die with that person. We have to move on for our sanity. We need to take chances because we are still alive and life is short so to speak.

The novel is all about Lou’s journey, a bumpy process of accommodation to loss and the fear of starting over. She is stuck in a bartender job which she abhors; she wallows in her apartment in London until an accident forces her to be around her family and to try to move on.

There are two new characters that change her life. Sam who works as a paramedic who disentangles her from downstairs neighbor’s canopy and Lily, the teenager who barges in her home and in her life unexpectedly, claiming to be a daughter of Will. These two characters help her emerge from the dark place she is in.

‘After You’ has taken me on yet another roller coaster ride of emotions. I don’t know how the author does it, tackling death and the void it can leave us but Moyes has created absolute gems; she has a knack for breaking your heart before restoring your faith in love. Her innate ability to describe damaged people with complex lives is just brilliant. One would fall in love with weepy bits and witty bits.

The first series is a tear-jerker where the love evokes a  sense of desolation whereas the second one helps in making peace with the past and moving on and in doing so, it reminds us that ‘Life goes on!’

As per Moyes in her own words: “That’s life. We don’t know what will happen. Which is why we have to take our chances while we can.”

Book: After You

By Jojo Moyes

ISBN 978-1-405-90907-5

Pp 406

Book Review: Me Before You

“You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”

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Photo By Me

When I start reading this novel, I thought it to be another love story but I never know that it would provoke an emotional typhoon within me that is just beyond my imagination.

Me Before You is a page-turner that gives the reader one hell of an emotional ride. This book spun its magic around me and encompassed me in it. While delving into the lives of Lou and Will, I was overwhelmed with emotions; there was not one line in the whole book I didn’t love.

Reading about the six months tenure that Louisa Clark and Will Traynor spent together made me laugh and cry. I laughed on many occasions and there were times my tears would roll down my cheeks and this would continue till the end of the story.

It is a moving tale of two lives that intertwined in such a way that both Lou and Will never realized. 26-year-old Lou is a simple girl who needs a job after she was being laid off from the tea shop ‘The Buttered Bun’. Will’s mother requires a carer for her son who is suffering from quadriplegia after an accident- a condition caused by severe injury in which patient is unable to move any part of his body below his shoulders. Because of his condition, Will longs for death and wants to go to Switzerland to put an end to his misery.

Enters in Lou in the gloomy life of Will who tries to brighten up his life with her quirky nature and weird fashion. Both change each other’s lives for good. She elevates his mood and he introduces her to the finer things in life such as classical music and foreign films. She chides him to be more positive as she communicates with other quadriplegic online to learn their special needs and expectations. He encourages her to live to her potential and expand her horizons.

During her six months stay, she gets to know about Will’s motive of taking up his life. Horrified by this discovery, Lou sets out to improve his life and give him a reason to live and look forward to each day.

As an outsider probably I would not agree with Will’s decision to go for euthanasia but then

me before you

Can’t stop reading!

going through his life before his accident, would justify his motive. He was a debonair man who could sway over anyone with his smile and easygoing attitude. Unfortunately the accident took away his everything and he could not accept to be weak and dependent, bound in some wheelchair for his whole life.

Meanwhile, Louisa’s character somewhat goes beyond that of a struggling middle-class girl. She may be light and cheerful on the exterior, but inside there’s an unshakeable tinge of tragedy about her. She’s never really ventured beyond the small town she lives in. There are economic restraints, but it’s more than that. It’s a phobia of not playing safe. Louisa was sexually assaulted by a group of men in her teenage days, and in an emotional moment in the novel, she returns to the scene of the assault with Will and explains her trauma. It’s this plot line, perhaps in the novel that gives the most insight to Louisa as a character.

It was a tear-jerker read; what struck me was their love for each other. Love doesn’t destroy you rather it tries to make a better and improved version of you. Love doesn’t suffocate you, it let you fly high and let go of the fear and this is what Lou and Will did for each other! The relationship between them is told in such a wonderful way and develops through several stages, each filled with hilarity.

me before you 1

Just Live!

Jojo Moyes has beautifully crafted the story which is funny, utterly engaging and blissfully romantic. The novel is also adapted for the major motion picture starring Emilia Clarke (Louisa) and Sam Claflin (Will) however,  I am kind of person who does not believe in making a movie out of an enchanting and heart-wrenching novel.

To be honest, I have not stopped thinking about this book since I put it down!!I know it will stay with me for a very long time. And I want to give warning to all those readers who want to read this book, it’s better you avoid reading in public because crying in public is apparently a weird thing to do.

I rate this novel 4.5 out of 5

Me Before You

By Jojo Moyes
Penguin Random House, UK
ISBN: 978-0-718-18118-5
481pp.