In After You, Jojo Moyes allows us to see what happens to her characters following the heartbreaking events detailed in her bestselling novel Me Before You. I hate spoilers, so if you haven't read Me Before You, you might want to stop reading now. And if you do stop reading now, I must insist you pick up Me Before You instead. Really, it's one of those books you just should read. And considering the film version is scheduled for release in the spring, you may want to get to know these characters soon. The actors starring in it only add to the excitement.
And if you have read it, you will most certainly want to know how things turned out for Louisa Clark. As you can imagine, it has been a difficult two years for Louisa. Though she has traveled some and attempted to live the life Will hoped she would live, she once again finds herself in a dead-end job that she hates and floundering more than a bit. When an unexpected teenager (aren't they all?) pushes into Louisa's life, she begins to feel she may finally have a purpose. Of course, the drama and difficulty that accompany said teenager add upset to Louisa's already troubled waters, but it also teaches her so much about herself.
I liked this book and revisiting loved characters is always a treat. It didn't quite have the heart that the first book had, but it was still very good. The theme that I most appreciate in both of these novels is the necessity for each of us to really live our lives. When Louisa is visiting Will's father, they have this conversation:
"My son was all about living, Louisa. I don't need to tell you that."
"That's the thing, though, isn't it?"
"He was just better at it than the rest of us."
"You'll get there, Louisa. We all get there. In our own ways."
And much later, in a discussion with a new friend, he tells her:
"You think I don't know how that feels? There's only one response, and I can tell you this because I see it every day. You live. And you throw yourself into every thing and try not to think about the bruises."
These may be words we've heard a hundred times and a hundred different ways, but it bears repeating that we need to really live our lives and not just wait for the living to begin some day in the distant future. How much of our time do we spend just filling the hours, killing time? Sometimes it takes hearing from someone who is running out of time to shift our perspective just a bit.