We Are All Just Human

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“You’re going to feel uncomfortable in 25041504your new world for a bit. But I hope you feel a bit exhilarated too. Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle. Just live well. Just live. Love, Will.”

How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?

Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .

For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.

Last September (when I first saw the release announcement for “After You”) I told myself I wouldn’t read it. Not because I was afraid of crying (which is always a distinct possibility when it comes to emotional mastermind Jojo Moyes) or because I thought that it would be rubbish. I wasn’t going to read it because I didn’t think it was necessary.

I loved “Me Before You.” I thought it was stunningly beautiful. Bittersweet and undeniably sad, but beautiful. I also thought that it was enough. Lou and Will’s story had been told, and I didn’t see the point of rehashing it. But (as is so often the case) I didn’t follow my own rules and here we are.

What changed my mind?

To be honest, a slew of sub-par writing.

The last few books I’ve read (though highly entertaining) have been easing their way towards the bottom of the writerly food chain. I needed something dependable. (Even if the world “dependable” sounds like a word usually used to find a man…not a book.)

Anywho… my thoughts. 

I was right. This book was unnecessary. And at times, I felt that it was written for the sole purpose of giving rabid fans closure. BUT (that said) I did still enjoy it. 

While “Me Before You” centered around “living,” (as ironic as that may sound) “After You” examined grief. What happens to a person when they feel responsible for a catastrophic life event. The repercussion they face when they refuse to let go. The ripple effect of loss.

“After You” was an honest look at broken people. It wasn’t glossed over, dumbed down or even written through rose colored glasses. It was ugly, and angry, and then…surprising.

I’ll admit it, by the end of the first chapter I found myself crying. By chapter three I was laughing, and by four I was in a total state of shock. These are all the markings of a well written novel. And though “After You” had a few pacing problems (aka: it dragged a time or two) the characters and the lessons they taught made the slower moments seem insignificant in the end.  

You know what, let me make this easier for all of us and bulletpoint a few things quickly.

1. The plot was more “lets walk around the park” less “high speed chase.” There was a lot on introspection and quite a bit of dialogue. There were a few scenes where the action ramped up, but not until the very end of the novel.

2. The characters were amazingly well developed. There was Lou, who we already thought we knew but learned so much more about. Sam, the ambulance man who was a breath of fresh farm boy air. Tanya Houghton-Miller, who might just go down as one of the most selfish women of all time. Lou’s parents, who spent the majority of the book arguing about food and leg hair. An entire grief counseling group who might be a little bit off, and…well, a few others I can’t name. I think you get the point. This book would have been nothing without solid characters. Even the uppity bar manager was an intrigal part of this new journey.

3.  The ending. It was perfect. For a few moments I was afraid Moyes was going to do the worst possible thing for Lou. Not allow her to be free, but then she gave her the gift of life. A complicated but joyous one WHICH…if we are all being honest with ourselves…is the reason so many people wanted this book to be written in the first place. To see Lou be happy.

“After You” was not as good as “Me Before You.” I don’t think that is even a reasonable expectation. But it was great in it’s own way. It explored the best and the worst of human emotion. It taught us about what to hang on to and what to let go of. It reminded us that it’s ok to not be ok, and it’s ok to BE ok. There is no correct answer, and no one is perfect. We are all just humans…trying to make it through one day to find joy in the next.

I say, if you enjoyed “Me Before You” why not go ahead and give this one a read. I promise…you won’t be a sobbing mess by the end. 

Add it to your Goodreads shelf / Amazon wishlist

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Overall: 3.9

About Misty

Your friendly neighborhood narcissist. I'm sarcastic, cynical and a bit cranky. I own a soap box so big that sometimes I have difficulty stepping down off of it, and I'm about 94% certain I have multiple personalities. I don't sleep enough, and I read more than any person should ever consider normal. I have anger management issues, especially when I'm stuck in traffic and I have an unhealthy obsession with my Kindle. I am a vampire lovin', zombie obsessed, book-in-hand, iPod freak. You either love me or hate me. You be the judge.