You know Me Before You? Book by Jojo Moyes, movie starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin? Here is the follow up book, After You.
If you don’t know about Me Before You, because it’s relevant, it’s about Louisa (Lou) Clark and Will Traynor. Will is wealthy, he was successful in his career, and he was a paraplegic because of an accident. This reduced his quality of life quite a lot. Jojo Moyes wanted to write the book because she had people who were wheelchair bound because of paralysis or other reasons and wanted to explore and understand that, as well as try to shed light on how some people would choose assisted suicide. This understandably makes Me Before You super contentious because it was told (largely) from the POV of the able bodied person, and some people felt like it was making it seem like paralyzed people want to end their lives.
I get it, the sociologist in me totally understands how fraught such conversations are. For me, I feel like Jojo Moyes did as well as she could to show a perspective that the “average” person would relate to; yes, you could be happy if you were paraplegic, but also, yes, not everyone who is paraplegic wants to be unable to care for themselves and dealing with endless declining health issues, yes, assisted suicide is complicated as hell. It’s something that I’m not even entirely comfortable getting into here in depth because it’s so bloody complicated and I’m not an expert and I’m not paraplegic and don’t want to come across as the voice of all knowledge. I just don’t want anyone to write off the book because it deals with a divisive topic. I guess I see it as everyone’s experiences are different and she showed one area while also highlighting it wasn’t the only option.
Any how, After You is about Louisa after Will’s death. It shows how traumatic losing someone she loved was, how the way he died and her involvement in it impacted her, how she constantly questioned if she could have or should have stopped him. Someone comes into her life from Will’s past. Someone he didn’t even know. She also gets seriously injured and starts falling in love with the paramedic who saved her.
Will’s daughter. Yep. So that was interesting. It was interesting to see how trying to help her saved Lou in a way even if she didn’t always like it. Even if Lily had her own baggage. I kind of thought Lily was almost stereotypically difficult, no dad, crap mom, stepdads who cared more about their biological kids, predictable anger and rebellion. It was almost like she was the polar opposite of Lou. Intentional? Probably. Easy way to challenge Lou, right. And Lou was an easy way to temper Lily’s personality. Of course, Mrs. Traynor basically swooped in and rescued Lily at the end so Lou could take a better job and Lily gets a proper family, yay for happy neatly wrapped endings, yay yay yay.
The paramedic. I liked him. I mean, he was sort of the predictable guy again. It was obvious that he would unintentionally do something to upset Lou who’d then be like gosh darn it never trust a man and then they’d fall in love for realzzzz and commit to their lovely future together. Ring up the wedding bells. Dun du du duuuu dun du duh dunnnnn.
This book was actually pretty ok if you’re into people dealing with heartbreak, family crises, and romance, and I guess a touch of the shitty job. It’s more predictable than Me Before You and stuck me as an easy summer read. It was a nice break from memoirs, that real-life issue stuff, and fantasy. So… that’s that. I recommend well enough.