After You is the long awaited sequel to Me Before You by Jojo Moyes that tells the story of Louisa Clark moving on and learning to live without Will Traynor. Bearing in mind her parting promise to him to “live life”, we follow Lou as she grieves the person who taught her the most about life. After breaking our hearts with Me Before You, Moyes gives us a novel about healing, reminding us how to go on when all seems lost.
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…
It only took me two days to read Me Before You, but it took my nearly a full week to get through After You. I’m not sure if it was because I didn’t want Lou and Will’s story to end, or if it was because I felt as though I was actually grieving Will as well and was taking my time learning about and adapting to Lou’s new life.
However, I am so glad that I read this novel. It is a story about love, healing and second chances – and not just for Lou either. It reminds us that we all deserve second chances and it teaches us to let go of the ghosts that haunt our lives in a multitude of ways.
Whilst reading After You, I found two main messages that seemed to be hidden between it’s pages, one more prominent than the other. The first is that sometimes in life things happen to us, but we don’t need to that thing become us, or define us. The other, is that there is always more love out there.
The first one is actually something Will said to Lou in Me Before You, but at the time it was just a truth he said to make her feel better. But she never forgot it. After the events in Me Before You and what happens to Lou in the beginning in After You, she remembered it more and more. She also said it to another character, Lily, passing this universal truth on. He said:
“You don’t have to let that one thing be the thing that defines you.” – Jojo Moyes, After You
It’s true. Whatever we’re dealing with or going through – it’s only a blip. One small thing that happens to us in our whole lives. It doesn’t need to be the thing that defines us if we don’t let it be. That is the beauty of moving on and healing. We make the things that define us ourselves, we don’t need to let the bad thing be it.
The other message is the one I felt was the most important: there is always more love. Sometimes when we lose the person that we love, it sometimes feels as though there will be no one else out there who just “gets” us. But Moyes reminds us that there is always more love out there in the world to find.
It always feels like there is just one person in this world to love, and then you find someone else and it seems crazy that you ever worried in the first place.
Lou feels as though no one can ever love her the way Will did, and worries if she can even let anyone else in enough to love them after going through what she did with Will. But she does find someone else. She finds that she can be someone else’s reason for staying, she finds that she can, yet again, fall in love. She says:
“Our eyes locked. And in that moment everything shifted. I saw what I had really done. I saw that I could be somebody’s center, his reason for staying. I saw that I could be enough.” – Jojo Moyes, After You
When a person falls in love once, they can fall in love again.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: When a person falls in love once, and something happens and they lose the person they love, then someday they’ll find someone special again. People who’ve been in love once usually do. It’s in their nature.
Even when if it does feel like it will take a lifetime to get over them.