Over the weekend, I read After You, the sequel to Jojo Moyes‘ immensely popular Me Before You, which I bought in London. This book is a lot more dramatic and sad, with Louisa being sad and hurting throughout most of it and it was exactly as I’d expected, which is to say: meh. Not a great book, but not a despicably bad book either. It wasn’t as good as the first one, which I kind of expected since I felt like Jojo was trying to ride her first book’s success.
Again, as usual, if you are planning on reading the book yourselves, don’t read more of this post. There will be spoilers.
Let’s get you started with the back cover:
***THE SEQUEL TO THE INTERNATIONALLY BESTSELLING BOOK ME BEFORE YOU***
Lou Clark has lots of questions. Like how it is she’s ended up working in an airport bar, spending every shift watching other people jet off to new places. Or why the flat she’s owned for a year still doesn’t feel like home. Whether her close-knit family can forgive her for what she did eighteen months ago. And will she ever get over the love of her life. What Lou does know for certain is that something has to change.
Then, one night, it does.
But does the stranger on her doorstep hold the answers Lou is searching for – or just more questions? Close the door and life continues: simple, ordered, safe. Open it and she risks everything.
But Lou once made a promise to live. And if she’s going to keep it, she has to invite them in…
So, we find Lou living in London in an apartment she bought with the money that Will left her. She did travel for a bit, but when that didn’t inspire her anymore, she came back to England. She is working in an Irish airport bar, just going through the motions of life. She’s obviously still very depressed about what happened to Will and she’s lost touch with her family who can’t forgive her for “what she did”. Now that is the first thing that’s absolutely ridiculous: Lou didn’t do anything. Will made a decision and all that Lou did was accept that she couldn’t do anything about that (even though she didn’t agree with it) and decide to be there for the man she loved. I have no idea why he family blames her for it. If anything, it shows that they raised her well, since she decided to put aside her own objections and be there for Will.
Lou is just going through life until it is upheaved by the arrival of Lily, a rebellious sixteen-year-old who claims that Will was her father. Remember how Will was kind of a conceited asshole before his accident? Well, he got his college girlfriend pregnant and he treated her like an ass. She decided to leave, not telling him about the pregnancy, and finding a new hubby, more suited to what she wanted out of life (namely: a man who lets her do anything she wants and can give her the life she thinks she deserves). So, Will never knew about his daughter and Lily has only recently found out that Will was her father when his mother learned of his death. That moved Lily to do some research about her death father, which has brought her to Lou’s doorstep.
Then we see Lily, a rebellious, little rich girl, partying and getting into trouble. But really she just wants to find out about her father, wants to feel loved and wants to connect with her father’s family. So Lou brings her into contact with both her grandparents. They have split up since Will’s death: Will’s mother fell into a depression and moved to a little cottage in the middle of nowhere to disappear, while Will’s father married his mistress and they are now expecting a baby. Will’s father is psyched about meeting his granddaughter, but the situation with his wife makes him react very badly later, causing Lily to spiral further. So Lou gets over herself and contacts Will’s mother who is at first surprised and hurt to be forced to remember Will. But a few days later, she realises that Lily is a part of her son and one of the last remaining parts of her family. So she climbs out of her depression and focusses her energy on her granddaughter: they bond, she finds Lily a new school and puts her back on the right path after having a stern talk with Lily’s mother.
Lou is now alone again. She was first very resistant to Lily, but the girl kept on showing up so she kind of took a mothering role to Will’s daughter, trying to keep her out of trouble and be there for her (especially after Lily’s mother just dumped her on Lou). But she quickly realises that Lily has a lot of problems that Lou can’t just fix, that Lou is still having problems herself and that she needs to find a way to move on with her life. Throughout the book, Lou has also started going to a support group for people who have lost family members to cancer. That’s how she meets a man, a paramedic, and they start up a relationship. When Lou has finally let go of Lily and Will, and feels ready to fully throw herself into her relationship with the man, something else happens.
Lou has been offered a job in New York (which she got through Will’s previous nurse), to help care for a family that travels a lot. She turned it down because she felt responsible for Lily, then again for something I don’t remember anymore, but as they say, the third tim’s the charm. She was basically using every excuse she could find to not take this amazing opportunity because she felt like she didn’t deserve it, and because leaving the apartment would mean really leaving Will behind. But then after everything is settled with Lily and she has sorted out her own life, she decides to go for it anyway. And that is how the book ends, she gets on a plane to New York and she and her man promise to try long-distance and see what happens.
I was promised a happy ending for Lou, a book where she dealt with her issues regarding Will, and carved out a life for herself. Instead we see Lou floundering, Lily coming into the picture for dramatic effect, her finally finding her place a little bit and then an open ending where she just gets on a plane and goes. So frustrating! I really, sincerely, immensely, greatly hope that Moyes didn’t do that to leave the door open for another sequel, because I will not read that, not for the life of me! I read the first one to see what all the fuss was about, and I understood the fuss. I liked and disliked it, but I’m glad I read it. I gave in to this one because I’m a sucker for happy endings and Lou was an amazing character. But she lost all sense of herself and most of her personality in this book (which, yes, I understand, but she’s the reason I liked the book – so you must understand my disappointment) and then there is no conclusion for her. Even if there is a third one and everyone says she finally gets her happy ending, I won’t read it. I’m done!
Sorry for the rant. If you don’t agree with me and loved the books, I would love to know why! Any and all opinions about this series are welcome in the comments!