I have to say I really do enjoy Jojo Moyes' writing. She always sneaks an emotional punch or two in her stories that take me by surprise. And perhaps this touched me a bit more than most because I have gone through the depths of complete and utter heartbroken grief. And you get a bit lost in that time, and it takes a long time to find your way out. For me, it's two years. Two years of lots of tears, fake smiles, and going through the motions of life. People don't want to be around grief, so you go out of your way to pretend that you're fine when you're not. But it is a process that you have to go through in order to see the sunshine at the end. And the sunshine is there, trust me.
That's what After You is about. 18 months after Me Before You, Louisa is not a happy person. She lives in London and works a crap job at an airport bar. One night she's on the rooftop of her flat, and walking on the ledge of the building. She's done it before, many times, and doesn't do it with any intention of harming herself. She just enjoys it. But this one night, someone spooks her, and she falls off the building. And with that, she is jolted into a new life. She meets Sam, the EMT who arrives at the scene and slowly becomes part of her life in all the best ways; she connects with her family in new ways and watches her mother break out of her comfort zone (much to the chagrin of her father). She finds a big surprise that is connected to her past with Will Gaynor, the man she loved and lost in Me Before You. Her life is definitely messy, and full of damaged people, and it forces Louisa to wake up, start living, and make some choices to move forward and embrace life and love.
Have no doubt this book had me in some serious tears towards the end. A stuffy nose and blotchy face came free with this story. Yes, you probably should read Me Before You before you read the sequel. But I didn't, and I had no problems getting completely involved in Louisa's life and those around her. I didn't feel lost at all. Some people feel Jojo shouldn't have written a sequel, and I disagree. It is a satisfying conclusion to Louisa's story, and I really did enjoy this story--even if I did have an ugly cry.
Rating: 9/10 for a touching novel about grief and the struggle to move on and embrace life. Louisa makes you want to hug and yell at her sometimes, but in the end she is a pretty cool character. And Sam? Swoon!
Available in hardcover, e-book, and audio. A big thank you to Rebecca at Penguin Random House for a copy of the book for review.