Friday, October 23, 2015

Book Review: "After You" by Jojo Moyes

When I pick up a book by Jojo Moyes, it's a pretty fair bet that it's going to make me cry at least at some point, although none of the other books of hers have left me the sobbing mess I was while reading Me Before You, which was one of my favorite books of 2013.

Given how much I loved that book, I'll admit I was slightly dubious when I learned that Moyes was writing a sequel. Would it be able to capture the emotion of its predecessor without feeling like a retread? Was there more to Louisa Clark's story that still needed to be told? And perhaps most importantly, would it leave me an emotional wreck? I'd say pretty much, yes, and, well, sort of.

Since Will Traynor's death, Louisa's life hasn't been the same. She promised him she'd live boldly, and she tried, but in the end, she found herself going through the motions more than anything else. When a freak accident forces her to return home to live with her family, she is confronted by the feeling that she never made any progress with her life before she met Will, and she doesn't know what she wants—if anything—from her future.

Stuck in a job she hates, with only her family and members of a bereavement group to commiserate with, Lou feels guilty about not keeping her promise, but she isn't sure she has anything more in her. But then life—in the forms of an unexpected figure from Will's past, and the paramedic who rescued Lou after her accident—intervenes, and once again she is forced to make a decision as to whether to do what is best for her, to step outside of her comfort zone, or should she just do what is easiest, even if it means letting chances pass her by?

After You is a book about how hard it is to move on and start living again after you've lost someone you love so deeply. It's about how grief affects everything you do, and sometimes paralyzes you, and how even when you are pushed out of your rut, it can still be far too hard. It's also about whether you are willing to let yourself take chances again, even if those chances may lead to you being hurt again.

I really enjoy the way Moyes writes. Her style is breezy, accessible, conversational, and it just draws you in so quickly. I really liked most of the characters in this book, and it didn't really feel like a retread of Me Before You. I'll admit that at times I felt the book was going to veer into territory I wasn't going to like, but for the most part, Moyes kept us out of there. (There was one brief shift in the book's narration that would really have irritated me if it continued, but fortunately, it didn't.)

This book didn't hit me as hard as its predecessor, but I still found myself getting choked up. And while I didn't think this book was quite as good, it's still a really good, enjoyable, emotional read, so I wasn't disappointed.

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